GIRLS GOLF: Odessa High’s Cernoch perseveres through turbulent season to compete at regional tournament

Hailey Cernoch will be the first to tell you she hasn’t played her best golf at times this season.

After starting strong in the fall, the Odessa High senior couldn’t find her groove for a majority of the season.

Finally, a week before the District 2-6A Tournament, she found her stride. Cernoch used that momentum to shoot a 74 at the district championships on March 26 in Abilene to secure a medalist spot at the regional tournament.

“All of a sudden, the air cleared, her mind cleared, you can just see it, it’s like flipping on a light switch, you hit that one boom and you’re like ‘man that was great’ and all of a sudden, there it is again,” Odessa High head girls golf coach Berry Borchardt said about Cernoch.

Cernoch begins play in the Region I-6A Championships on Wednesday, with the final round Thursday, at the Tierra Verde Golf Club in Arlington.

“I’m ready to get there and see what’s going to go on down there and hopefully go to the next level,” Cernoch said. “I’ve been working day by day getting ready for it.”

Cernoch’s focus over the past month has been to stay in that rhythm and work on the smaller things in her game to limit mistakes.

This is Cernoch’s third time to the regional tournament. As a freshman, Cernoch was a member of the team that won Odessa High’s first girls golf district championship. She then qualified as an individual in 2016.

Last year however, Cernoch fell short of making the regional tournament. She’s determined to make the most of her return trip to the Metroplex.

“I worked my butt off to get there,” Cernoch said. “I was struggling throughout my season; I wasn’t playing the way I should. I never stopped working. I guess my effort showed at the end.”

Before Cernoch joins UTPB’s golf team in the fall, she’s hoping to have two more tournaments as a Lady Broncho. To make that dream a reality, Cernoch believes she’ll have to play her best 36 holes of the season.

To advance to the state tournament, Cernoch will need to be one of the top three golfers not on one of the top three teams.

“It’s going to have to be either par or lower, it can’t be anything above that,” Cernoch said about where she’ll need to shoot both days. Par at Tierra Verde Golf Club is 72. “You can’t let strokes get away.”

Cernoch has played at Tierra Verde once.. She said there’s a huge difference between that course and the local ones.

Athletes of the Permian Basin have to deal with more intense winds and more flat holes than the ones in the Dallas area.

“I’ve played so many tournaments throughout my years of playing golf that I’ve been down there, I’ve been here, I’ve been there,” Cernoch said. “I know the difference between them.”

“You’re always working on some of the real fine points of the game to make it as perfect as you can, and we’re still doing that,” Borchardt added. “I believe (Cernoch’s) got an opportunity to go to state, she really does. She’s played well enough.”