Mason County senior Sarah Fite finished her high school career in style at the Bowling Green Country Club on Wednesday. The University of Kentucky signee charged back from a three-shot deficit after Tuesday’s first round to shoot a 1-under par 71 and win the girls’ Leachman Buick-GMC-Cadillac/KHSAA Golf State Championship with a two-day score of 145, three strokes ahead of runner-up Sarah McDowell of Murray.
After placing sixth last year, Sacred Heart ran away with the team title, placing three golfers in the top 10 and finishing 32 strokes ahead of second-place Shelby County.
Fite had no idea what she was about to accomplish as she strolled onto the green at No. 18.
“I didn’t know where I was the whole round,” she said. “When I came off of 18 I thought I was in trouble because that was a bogey and I came to the scorer’s tent and they told me I had a three-shot lead and I was like, ‘oh my goodness, wow.’ I wasn’t expecting it because there are so many good players out here.”
Royals head coach John Arn said Fite’s par on the first hole Wednesday was a catalyst for her run to the title after she struggled to a double-bogey to open the first round.
“Her nemesis hole has been No. 1, and today she got off to a fantastic start,” he said. “The front nine she just tried to get through and she was in every fairway and made all of her putts. She was just firing on all cylinders.”
This feels so great, it’s always been my goal. I sat and watched Emma Talley, Lydia Gumm and some others win that state champion trophy and I knew I wanted it one day so that’s what I worked for.
Another big moment came on the par-3 seventh hole, where Fite flirted with an ace.
“I teed off and almost got a hole-in-one,” she said. “It rolled a couple of inches away and I thought ‘all right, let’s go.’ I was so excited, that just made me turn a corner.”
Fite went on to torch the back nine with two more birdies and six pars. Her miscue on No. 18 was her only bogey after the turn.
“This feels so great, it’s always been my goal,” Fite said. “I sat and watched Emma Talley, Lydia Gumm and some others win that state champion trophy and I knew I wanted it one day so that’s what I worked for.”
Scott County freshman Rylea Marcum, who finished tied for third place with a 150, played in Fite’s group Wednesday. Marcum could barely contain her joy once it became clear no one in the groups that were yet to finish was going to catch Fite.
“Sarah played so great. She’s one of my leaders, I want to be as good as her one day,” said Marcum. “Her attitude on the course really helps me a lot … I love her to death.”
Sacred Heart was led to the team title by Ryan Bender and Erin Rowland, who each finished with two-day scores of 153 to tie for seventh place. Morgan Tinsley shot a 155 to tie for 10th.
Valkyries head coach Leslie Bender said the team has worked hard to erase the disappointment of last year’s sixth-place finish.
“Last year we were young and didn’t quite have the experience we needed to deal with the pressure of being here,” she said. “But this year we came in and they were very comfortable with the scene and they knew their games were good enough. I told them once we start making birdies everything will fall into place and we made 14 as a team today.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar junior Sarah Black was the lone player from a Lexington school at the state tournament. She qualified as an individual at last week’s 7th Region Tournament at Juniper Hills in Frankfort. She finished tied for 19th with a 161.
“Next year I want to make it back and stay in the 70s both days and shoot for a top-10 finish,” she said.
At Bowling Green Country Club
Boys: Friday and Saturday (First round begins at 7 a.m. CDT)