Eagle to open leads Rampart's Arielle Keating to Kadet Invitational crown

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Photo - Rampart's Arielle Keating lines up a putt on fifteens green. The Air Academy Kadets hosted the 2017 Kadet Invitational in girls golf on Friday, April 14, 2017 at Eisenhower Golf Club. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Rampart's Arielle Keating lines up a putt on fifteens green. The Air Academy Kadets hosted the 2017 Kadet Invitational in girls golf on Friday, April 14, 2017 at Eisenhower Golf Club. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Rampart's Arielle Keating eagled her first hole on a pristine day at Eisenhower Golf Course and rode that momentum to her second tournament win in three days.

The junior opened her season with a 1-under par 72 at the Trojan Invitational at Cheyenne Shadows on Wednesday and followed it up with a 4-over 76 at the Air Academy Kadet Invitational on Friday.

Her opening swing on Friday sent a smooth, picturesque drive down the middle of the fairway and within 120 yards of the pin on Eisenhower's 419-yard long par-5 No. 18. Her eagle, two shots later, was her first in a high school tournament this season.

"The first hole, specifically the first hit is where you get all your jitters out," Keating said. "It was really nice to start off with a solid hole. I mean the next hole I bogeyed, but I think the first hole did set a good tone."

Keating has focused more of her attention to the course over the last year.

In her first two years of high school, she split her time between golf and club volleyball. That debate came to an end when she traveled to the Augusta National Golf Club to take part in the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship during Masters week in 2016.

She worked on her swing in the summer and fall with her father, Brad, a golf professional who is also Rampart's golf coach. In the winter, she golfed daily for more than two weeks in Florida before verbally committing to Florida Atlantic University in February.

"She has advanced so much," her father said. "She wants to take her game to the next level and she has hit the next notch."

Keating was marvelous with two hiccups - three birdies to go along with a double and triple bogey. Only Palmer Ridge's Kellsey Sample out of a field of 65 golfers was within six strokes of her. The Bears senior finished with a 78 on 10 pars and one birdie.

Keating and Sample, both friends, could be contenders in their respective state tournaments next month. Until then, Sample said facing Keating will elevate her game.

"It's a good rivalry," said Sample, who tied for 10th at 4A state last year. "We're always happy for each other. I'm not mad she beat me. I'm like, 'that a girl,' that's going to make me better."

Arapahoe won the invite with 269 points, one point ahead of Rampart (270). Palmer Ridge was third (278).

The area's golfers will continue the season with two more tournaments next week. They're at the Kissing Camels Golf Course on April 17 and Pine Creek Golf Club on April 20.