Published: Nov 02, 2011 07:35 PM
Modified: Nov 02, 2011 09:33 PM
PINEHURST - Not every surprise was bad for Sarah Bae on Tuesday. As the best golfer for Athens Drive, she started to cry after coming off the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 6 course.
Bae, a junior, felt she had let herself and her teammates down. An 8-over-par 79 wasnt good enough for the individual title. She thought maybe it wasnt enough for her team to win, either.
Hilary Gugig saw Bae and hugged her. Then Gugig gave Bae the news: The Jaguars were going to be champs again.
Athens Drive won the 4A N.C. High School Athletic Association girls golf championship by 10 strokes led by Gugig, who had her best round of the season.
I felt bad because I thought I let the team down, but luckily I had a teammate who backed me up, Bae said. This is big, and Im glad we didnt repeat the same thing last year.
Although Bae struggled, Gugig, a senior, shot a 77 in her second round. Gugigs five-stroke improvement from Monday was enough for the Jaguars to win their third title in the past four years. Athens Drive (481) entered Tuesday a stroke behind Charlotte Ardrey Kell (491).
I like that positioning a lot better because whatever I do will help no matter what, Gugig said. I knew I needed to do this just for me and my team.
For most of the year, the Jaguars relied on Baes strong play for success. Still, they needed a complete performance. Athens Drive finished the regular season third in the Tri-Nine Conference and was second at the regional tournament.
I knew Hillary would peak sometime this year, and she finally did, coach Tony Alcon said. That 77 was awesome.
What impressed Alcon the most was how Gugig didnt let a bad shot early affect her play.
She was able to take a bad chip and walk away from it, Alcon said. Shes had that problem for years. She started believing in herself. She played through it.
On the 10th hole, Gugig said she left her second shot short but was able to chip onto the green. From there, she made a 25-foot putt to save par.
Even if Gugig missed a short birdie opportunity on No. 15, she regrouped. In order to birdie No. 16, a par-three hole, Gugig putted her ball up a hill from 15 feet.
All of a sudden I knew I could still be in this, Gugig said. I had no double- or triple-bogies and that was what kept me going.
Middle Creek, the East regional champ and runner-up in the Tri-Nine, was never a factor in the two-day tournament. The Mustangs finished seventh with a 528. Green Hope was 12th (567) and Apex was 14th (609).
Another Tri-Nine golfer stood out, and it was Fuquay-Varina freshman Catherine Ashworth.
Ashworth, who qualified as an individual, posted a two-day score of 159 that tied her for 10th at the state championships. It was the highest finish for any freshman in the 4A field.