The 85-yard third shot on the par-5 finishing hole at Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck was not one Taylor Totland had been presented with often.
Sure, Trump National is her home course. But the Red Bank Catholic junior generally plays from the blue tees, not the shorter set of tees used at last month’s NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.
Still, Totland knew exactly what to do. She stopped her wedge shot within five feet of the cup and sank the birdie putt that would ultimately win her that individual state championship.
Totland, the Asbury Park Press Player of the Year for the third straight spring, became the first Shore Conference competitor to claim the state championship since Toms River North’s Sukjin Lee Weusthoff won her third straight back in 2004.
“It was just an incredible way to end the season,” Totland said.
In many ways, Totland saved her best for last during the 2012 campaign. Which is saying something when you consider how strong her start was.
Totland rolled to her third victory at the Monmouth County Tournament as she beat Colts Neck’s Emily Mills by three shots. She followed that up with a victory at the Red Devil Invitational at Copper Hill. She fired a 1-under-par 72 and won by five shots.
At the Shore Conference Tournament, Totland was denied her third straight win in the event as Mills shot 74 and claimed the title by a shot.
A few weeks later, at the NJSIAA South/Central girls’ team sectional, Totland shot 68 at Bey Lea in Toms River, second only to the 65 posted by Montgomery’s Alice Chen.
And finally, there was her rock-steady performance at Trump National, where she strung together 11 straight pars leading up to her birdie on No. 18. She shot a 1-over-par 73. That was one shot better than Gov. Livingston’s Scotland Preston, who beat Totland by a shot a year ago, and Ridge’s Hana Ku.
“The way she came back in the Tournament of Champions to take that title, it’s like everything gelled at end of the season,” said Red Banl Catholic coach Bill Kusch. “Everything came together.”
The Furman University-bound junior has now won six major high school individual titles. Over the summer, Totland plans to compete in national junior tournaments, as she continues to make a name for herself among the country’s top girls.
In many ways, her performance to close the season at Trump National, against a field that included several players with solid national reputations, can serve as a springboard for the next few months.
“When you think about it, there’s really no limit to what Taylor can achieve,” Kusch added. “That’s how much talent she has and how hard she works on her game.”