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Galloway leads NM team at USGA tournament

She’s just a high school junior, but Jacque Galloway will be the most tournament-experienced players in the field when the Women’s State Team Championship tees off Tuesday at The Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe.

Galloway also could be one of the field’s best in the United States Golf Association event.

Galloway, the two-time state prep champion from Rio Rancho’s Cleveland High, is one of three players on the New Mexico team. And at 17 years old, it is already her second appearance in the tournament.

Santa Fe’s Chanet Fiorina and Albuquerque’s Samantha Surette are the state’s other two players.

“It is just a great tournament, and so much fun,” Galloway said in a hoarse voice on Sunday night. “I really had a good time last time, especially playing with Dom. And even though she’s not on the team this time, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Galloway, her older sister Dominique Galloway and Jonelle Martinez finished eighth in the tournament in 2015, the last time it was played. The New Mexico team — with Dominique Galloway, Socorro’s Shania Berger and Deming’s Darian Zachek — also took eighth in 2013.

The tournament has been held every other year since 1995, and has alternated years with the Men’s Team Championship.

Both events, however, will be discontinued after this week’s tournament.

Dominique, a three-time state high school champion for Cleveland who now plays for New Mexico State, is no longer eligible for the Women’s State Team Championship because it doesn’t allow college players.

All other amateurs from the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are eligible. There will be 48 teams in Santa Fe today, as Puerto Rico, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota did not send teams.

The top two scores during each of the first two days count towards the team total. There will be a cut to the top 21 teams and ties after the second round. All individuals within five shots of the individual lead will also make the cut.

While New Mexico looks to have a strong shot at making the cut, Jacque Galloway’s chances appear even better. She has been playing in national events for nearly a decade and has long competed against some of the country’s best young amateur girls.

“There are a few girls here who I’ve gone against before, and they are really, really good,” Jacque said. “Florida has a 13 year old (Alex Pano) who is just a stud. She might be the one to beat.”

Jacque, who is battling the cold and flu bug that’s been making its way around the Albuquerque metro area, was too sick to attend the event’s pre-tournament banquet on Sunday night, but she did squeeze in a practice round at Las Campanas that afternoon.

Coughing and sneezing around the course could only slow her down enough to shoot a 1-under-par-71.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with Jacque, she is really good,” said Fiorina, 25, who was married earlier this month to Eric Trujillo. ”

“For me, it’s been a hectic month, that’s for sure. But it’s exciting, and I’m really looking forward to playing. I think our team can really do well.”

Surette, a 45-year-old graduate of Sandia High, works full time as a manager at CVS Pharmacy. But she has still been able to lower her handicap to a 4, and has an exceptional summer on the course.

“It’s funny, when I play in (Albuquerque Women’s) City with all those little young-uns, I kid with them, ‘You guys have to have a job and see what it’s like to work 45 hours a week, play just twice a week and then try to maintain your handicap.’ But as crazy as it seems, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better.

“Being a part of this team wasn’t on my radar, but when I was asked, I said ‘Of course.’ It was a very nice surprise. It’s an honor to represent New Mexico.

Galloway tees off at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday; Fiorina tees off at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday and Surette goes off at 12:40 Tuesday and 7:50 a.m. on Wednesday. The team begins on the 10th tee Tuesday and goes off No. 1 on Wednesday.

Tuesday-Thursday

USGA Women’s Team

Las Campanas, Santa Fe

Tee times: 7 a.m.-1:40 p.m. off

No. 1 and 10

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