John Paul II golfer Teresa Conroy built her lead with steadiness. She tried not to lose it the same way.
Conroy created a three-shot edge between her and Maclay senior Kolby McWilliams on the back nine during Tuesday’s City Championship at Killearn Country Club, and the sophomore did not relinquish it.
Conroy’s 3-over par 75 on slow greens earned her the title of medalist by two strokes over McWilliams.
“I just tried to hit good shots, hit one at a time, and hoped it turned out good,” said Conroy, who was third last year as a freshman when she shot 86. “This is my home course so I just try to hit fairways and give myself opportunity for birdie.”
The birdies were not dropping despite pin point approach shots. McWilliams and Conroy were tied through No. 13, but a couple wayward drives put McWilliams in scramble mode, leaving her with missed opportunities on the final stretch.
“I don’t really know what happened with my swing, but I just started hitting a shot that I wasn’t prepared to start hitting,” she said. “It was a cut shot and I just couldn’t get it close enough to really make any birdies. I made a lot of pars. I didn’t play bad, I just started hitting the ball bad and it cost me a few strokes.”
Grace Murray shot 90 for the Panthers, but JPII was passed by Chiles in the team standings. The Timberwolves, behind Vickie Kwak’s third place 89, shot 388 to the Panthers’ 390, good enough to steal the city title back from Maclay, which finished third at 399.
“Individual score counts towards the team score, and they’re still learning that,” Chiles coach Lori Nevin said. “They may be shooting bad, but it doesn’t mean their teammate is. If they keep fighting for every stroke, you’d be surprised how it balances out.”
Wakulla’s Kenzie Lee tied with Kwak, who played with Conroy and McWilliams in the lead group. The Timberwolves’ junior found the back nine to be tougher than the front, when she was within two strokes of the lead. But for most, this was the first 18-hole match they’d played this fall season. And it certainly won’t be the last, especially for Chiles which will play the same course next week in its district tournament.
“It makes a big difference,” Nevin said. “All season it’s nine holes. So when they get to the end of nine and their head is hanging, you say ‘Why? You’re getting ready to play another nine.'”
McWilliams was again the runner-up after posting 81 last year, but she’s steadily dropped her stroke average and on Tuesday managed to avoid the big number.
“I played the safe shot,” said McWilliams, describing one tee shot that left her unable to carry over water for her approach. She punched out of a horrible lie and managed a bogey, but Conroy parred to all but secure victory. “I could have tried to go over water and somehow gotten a bigger score and if Teresa’s (birdie putt) had fallen, I’d have been further away than when I started.”
Conroy three-putted for bogey on No. 18, but the damage had been done. As it turns out, slow and steady won the race.
“I made a few mistakes, I’ll never have a perfect round, but I’m pretty happy with my score,” Conroy said. “I played the best I could for today.”
1. Chiles, 388
2. John Paul II, 390
3. Maclay, 399
4. Leon, 441
5. Florida High, 448
6. Wakulla, 451
7. Lincoln, 453
8. Godby, 491
1. Teresa Conroy, John Paul II, 75
2. Kolby McWilliams, Maclay, 77
T3. Vickie Kwak, Chiles, 89
Kenzie Lee, Wakulla, 89
5. Grace Murray, John Paul II, 90
T6. McKenzie Glaze, Maclay, 92
Selby Proctor, Leon, 92
8. Leanna Davis, Florida High, 94
9. Kierra White, Godby, 95
T10. Lindsey Nichols, Chiles, 97
Hailey Eby, Lincoln, 97