After nine holes, two girls had battled to matching 41s on the front nine at Clover Meadows Thursday evening. One of them would be Putnam County Champion and the other would go home second.
After a pair of good drives, the approach shot really made the difference. South Putnam's Heather Hughes landed her shot just inches off the green, while Greencastle's Chelsea Samuels put hers several yards behind the green.
From there, Hughes got up and down in two for a par, while Samuels chipped on and two-putted for bogey.
For the second straight year, Hughes was the county champion.
The junior's individual performance echoed that of her entire team, as the Eagles fired a 194, defeating second-place Greencastle by 20 strokes. Cloverdale was third with a 233.
The difference in the playoff hole might have been one of experience. As the defending champion, Hughes had been there before.
"Heather played a really good round for us. She likes those pressure situations, like where she gets in that playoff. She kind of thrives on that kind of thing," South coach Debbie Steffy said. "I was happy to see she was able to repeat as county champion."
"Chelsea was quite nervous in that playoff, and it kind of showed on that second shot. But she played a good hole; she just got beat. We were very pleased with that. It gave us something to build on going into sectional," GHS coach Brad Kingma commented.
For the champion Eagles and Steffy, Thursday was a mix of meeting and exceeding expectations.
"I thought, overall, we played very, very well. We had everybody under 60, which was a goal of ours. To be able to compete, we knew we had to be under 60," Steffy said. "To have three people in the 40s, that was big for us. 194 is our best score of the season."
The three under 50 were Hughes, with a 41, Grace Aker with a 48 and Kelsey Searles with a 49. All three girls made All-County.
With an average score of 59, Searles was the surprise of the tournament.
"Kelsey Searles did an outstanding job for us, shooting a 49," Steffy said. "She almost had a hole-in-one there on No. 7, and then obviously birdied it. She was just striking the ball really well today."
Searles was as surprised as anyone at her performance on No. 7.
"I mean, it just came out of nowhere," she said of her outstanding tee shot.
Sarah Dobson was next for the Eagles with a 56, closely followed by Cassie Warren's 57.
"Grace and Heather have been around for a long time, playing on varsity for three years now. Just the leadership she brings to the whole program, that's a big plus for us on a day like today," Steffy said.
"I was happy for her that she was able to play, and she played well," she added. "Sure, she had a couple of bad holes as far as putting, but other than that she played well It was nice to see her out here and obviously it did help our team score quite a bit."
Greencastle's second place finish was led by All-County performances from Samuels and Katie Hedge. Samuels had a 41, and Hedge fired a 47.
Diane Wokoun was next for GHS with a 60. Kristen Hutcheson and Kay Wood each had a 66.
"It's pretty much where we expected that we would be. We didn't shoot as well in the three or four spots as we have been. That's where South Putnam was able to get us. They had a couple of really good scores come in. A couple of girls played really well. Hats off to them. We're happy," Kingma commented.
The Clovers also had a pair of All-County golfers in Kayla Langdon (47) and Elizabeth Wiley (54).
"Kayla and Elizabeth, neither one of them had great rounds, but they had enough to make All-County. That's a real plus for them," Williams said. "We're just hanging in there. It was nothing special tonight. There were no great performances, but everything was OK."
Victoria Boyette was next with a 62, and Erica Looper added a 70. Williams would like to have seen his team closer to the 219 they fired on Tuesday, but he wasn't complaining at night's end.
"233 is not a good as we've been doing. We'd like to have had a 219 like we had the other night, but it wasn't to be," he said.
The attention now turns to Saturday's sectional at Forest Park. The competition will be tough to advance out as teams, but a number of local girls have a chance to make it out as individuals.
"We see as many as six or eight kids that could advance individually, and Kayla's one of them," Williams said. "Elizabeth's a dark horse there, and if she plays well, she could be in it perhaps. That's what we're going for and the experience for the other two."
KIngma wants to see his team post a good score and see if Samuels has what it takes to advance to regional.
"We have an early tee time, so we'll see how it goes. We'll be able to hopefully post a good score and get those in there," Kingma said. "Chelsea's been playing really well, so hopefully she'll be able to get through. Teamwise, there a few big schools in front of us in the two Terre Haute schools and Northview. But there's a whole bunch of schools that can go four through eight or nine pretty evenly. It should be quite a fun day."
For Steffy's Eagles, Hughes and Aker should both have a good shot. The key for the whole team will be to remember the disappointment they felt after last Saturday's WCC meet while building on Thursday's performance.
The Northview Sectional begins at 9 a.m. at Forest Park Golf Course in Brazil.
At Clover Meadows
Putnam County Tournament
South Putnam 194, Greencastle 214, Cloverdale 233
All-County Team -- Hughes (S) 41*, Samuels (G) 41, Langdon (C) 47, Hedge (G) 47, Aker (S) 48, Searles (S) 49, Wiley (C) 54.
South Putnam (194) -- Hughes 41, Aker 48, Searles 49, Dobson 56, Warren 57.
Greencastle (214) -- Samuels 41, Hedge 47, Wokoun 60, Hutcheson 66, Wood 66.
Cloverdale -- Langdon 47, Wiley 54, Boyette 62, Looper 70.
Next match -- All three teams travel to Forest Park on Saturday for the Northview Sectional. The tournament begins at 9 a.m.
*--Hughes won medalist over Samuels in the first playoff hole.