UK golfer Harris overcomes aching back to win Marion Miley

ngray@herald-leader.comJuly 11, 2014 

  • Top finishers in the Marion Miley

    Sarah Harris 73-74—147 +3

    Caroline Moore74-76—150 +6

    Abby Smith 77-74—151 +7

    Hannah Sublett76-77—153 +9

    Abbi Stamper 77-76—153 +9

The 69th annual Marion Miley golf tournament was not in Sarah Harris' plans before this summer.

The University of Kentucky junior-to-be lives during the summer in her hometown of Nashville, where she is interning at an advertising agency while resting a pre-existing back injury. Only when Harris and her family decided to move her things from her old apartment to her new apartment this weekend did she decide to play in the tournament.

Harris' 2-over par 74 on Friday gave her a three-shot victory over Caroline Moore at Lexington Country Club.

The tournament is named after Miley, a former decorated amateur golfer from Lexington who was murdered in the second floor of the Lexington Country Club clubhouse in 1941. This weekend marked Harris' second time playing in the tournament, but certainly not her second time playing at the Lexington Country Club.

"I play the course twice a month or so during the school year," Harris said. "I love this course. You have to keep it in the fairway because the rough is really thick. It's always in great shape every time I have been out here."

Harris fought through tightness in her lower back that has limited her since the end of the college golf season in April.

"It's still sore," Harris said. "It's slowly getting better. You just play through it."

Moore, a rising redshirt freshman from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn,, was a shot behind Harris going to No. 9. But errant drives during the next several holes set her back, and she did not recover. Moore made four bogeys in a six-hole stretch, including three straight dropped shots on Nos. 12, 13 and 14.

Harris, meanwhile, continued to build her lead with a birdie on No. 11 after an approach from the rough landed within 10 feet of the hole.

Harris' biggest obstacle in the final few holes was a group of trees down the right side of the No. 16 fairway. Her tee shot sliced well right of the fairway and into those trees, and she eyed a small window between her ball and the green with a five-shot lead in tow.

"I wish I could play that one over," Harris said. "I tugged (the second shot), hit a tree, and it came back down in the roots of another tree. My thoughts were, 'Now, get it up and down for a 5.'"

Harris' third shot landed just short of the green, and, after a chip, her up-and-down attempt was thwarted by a missed short putt. She settled for a double-bogey, and her lead shrunk to three shots.

But Moore, one of her playing partners, did not mount a comeback in the final holes, and Harris carded pars on 17 and 18 to win.

"This is definitely a big confidence booster," said Harris, who was third on the UK golf team last season with a season scoring average of 74.74. "I think good things are in store for this year."

Abby Smith, the defending champion, shot a 74 to finish third after a 77 on Thursday left her out of the final group. Kie Pardom won the junior flight after a two-round score of 152 (8-over), and Cynthia Powell won the Miley Cup, for those players who play on shorter tees than the championship or junior flights, with a two-round score of 151 (7-over).

Nick Gray: (859) 231-1330. Twitter: @ngray_63.

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