The Sacred Heart girls' golf team won its fourth straight state championship in dramatic fashion Wednesday. After No. 1 player Maddie Hamilton made a par-saving putt on the final hole of regulation, Sacred Heart beat Henry Clay on the first playoff hole at Bowling Green Country Club.
For Henry Clay, the second-place finish continued an oh-so-close run in the Leachman/KHSAA Girls' State Golf Tournament. Henry Clay finished third the previous two years.
Henry Clay had a chance to win this year. But sophomore Leslie Ginter missed a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
"Pushed it right just a hair," Henry Clay Coach Kevin Mims said. He described the putt as "downhill a little bit" with a right-to-left break. "She just hung it a little bit too far right."
Hamilton, a senior, put the pressure on Ginter by scrambling to an unlikely par on the final hole. Being behind a tree in the rough led to Hamilton needing to make a long putt for par. "She made a stellar putt," Mims said. "She was quite a bit away, and she just nailed it right in the heart of the cup. She's just a phenomenal player who didn't get rattled."
To begin the playoff, Sacred Heart and Henry Clay returned to No. 18, a "true" par five "uphill all the way," Mims said. Henry Clay's top four scores added up to 23. The top four scores for its Louisville rival totaled 21.
Mims noted that Hamilton's father, Vince, introduced him to golf and had been touting a Sacred Heart-Henry Clay showdown since July.
"He said it's going to come down to us two," Mims said. "He's the one that calls and encourages and helps and does everything. So it's bittersweet for me every time they beat us."
Madison Thomas of Shelby County won the individual title with a 36-hole score of five under par. Lauren Hartlage of Elizabethtown finished second at one under.
Hamilton, who has signed to play college golf for Notre Dame, finished tied for fifth at two-over par. Ginter led Henry Clay at four over par, which tied for eighth.