Chilly temperatures, gusting wind and the aftereffects of rain late Friday night made playing conditions for the final day of the annual Calhoun County girls’ golf championship less than ideal.
None of that seemed to bother White Plains junior Lexee Cunningham. She merely shot a 78, the best round of the two-day tournament, and finished with a 36-hole total of 162 to claim the individual title.
“Today, I straightened out my drives and I got up and down a lot more. I was making eight-foot putts for par, saving it. That’s what was different,” Cunningham said.
Her efforts helped White Plains to its third straight team championship. The Wildcats’ Hanna Dyar, the first-round individual leader, finished at 165. White Plains also counted an 84 by Baylie Webb on Friday and an 83 from Allison Arenth on Saturday in their two-day team total of 494.
“I really think it gives us some confidence going forward,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “The one thing I really like team-wise is I really feel good about our depth. Allison had never broken 90 in competition before and she does it twice here and shoots the round of her life today.
“Baylie Webb, our eighth-grader, came on strong, the back nine for Lexee. Hanna’s going to putt better. She didn’t putt good today, but Hanna’s a champion. I expect her to be solid the rest of the year. I’m excited about all four of our girls and how well they played.”
Oxford was second in the team competition at 538. The Yellow Jackets were third in 2016 and 2017 but had never finished higher than that. Senior Anna Bolton led Oxford on Saturday with an 82, giving her a career-best 163 for 36 holes. She was second in the individual competition.
Classmate Kayla Huckeba finished third at 164 with a second-day 83. Senior Kaylee Reaves finished at 211. Oxford coach David Weeks, who did double duty as tournament director, was optimistic.
“This little group of girls has really done a lot. It’s been fun. … We’re three weeks away from sectionals and we seem to be playing pretty good,” Weeks said.
Cunningham started Saturday‘s round with pars on four of the first five holes then went bogey, bogey, double-bogey.
“Every time I had a bad shot I just put it in the back of my head, didn’t even think about it,” Cunningham said.
After her double-bogey on No. 8, Cunningham birdied No. 9 then had pars on the next four holes. She had a double-bogey seven on No. 14 but birdied Nos. 15 and 16.
“I was on a roll. Right before those two birdies I had a double (bogey) so I had to make it up somehow,” she said.
The birdie on No. 16 was particularly impressive. The green is so elevated that from the women’s tee box, players can’t see the green — only the flag. Cunningham’s first shot stopped less than three feet from the pin and she converted the short putt with ease.
Bolton and Cunningham were playing partners and challenged one another throughout the day. Bolton completed the front nine in two-over-par 37. She had the shot of the day on No. 8 when she chipped in from 30 feet off the green for a birdie.
“The first nine, I was in pretty good but when I got to No. 10 I hit in the water. I was like, ‘Man, I’m doing bad,’ but then ended up OK,” Bolton said.
After 17 holes, Cunningham led Bolton by two strokes although neither knew it at the time. Bolton reached the green in two but Cunningham’s second shot was in the short rough with a bunker between her ball and the green. She needed four more strokes before her sixth shot found the hole.
Bolton’s first putt rolled well past the cup and she three-putted the final hole.