By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
MADISON – Ally McDonald wrapped up her junior golf career with a bang Thursday, winning the 43rd annual Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship.
McDonald, a Fulton resident, took a commanding eight-stroke lead into the final round of the 72-hole event played at the Reunion Golf and Country Club and won by nine strokes with a 4-under-par 72-72-68-72 – 284 score.
“It’s the biggest tournament I’ve won this summer,” said McDonald, a Mississippi State signee, who won her third state girls junior tournament last month. “It was good to end my junior career on a good note, especially with my college career starting.”
In the boys portion of the tournament, Tupelo’s Noah West, the 2011 MHSAA Class 6A state champion for THS, finished fourth with a four-day total of 1-under-par 75-70-73-69 – 287.
Ripley’s Reed Lindsey finished tied for fifth with a 1-over 71-75-72-71 – 289.
J.T. Poston of Hickory, N.C., was the winner with a 6-under 282.
McDonald beat a national field to win the Big “I”. Taylor Totland of Tinton Falls, N.J., was second with a 5-over 293 while Emily Haas of Nicholasville, Ky., was third with a 9-over 298.
McDonald’s strategy on Thursday, she said, was not to get carried away and become too aggressive because of her big lead.
“But, I didn’t want to sit back and try to make pars,” she said. “I got into some trouble on my last hole with a bad tee shot. I bogeyed the hole or I would have been 1-under for the round.”
Her best shot, she said, was an approach to within five feet on No. 11. She birdied the hole to go back to even par.
McDonald ended her high school career at Itawamba AHS in May by winning the MHSAA Class 4A state championship against an all-boys field.
In June, she won the state women’s amateur title.
“I’m really excited about playing college golf,” she said. “Our first tournament is at the end of September. I’m looking forward to it.”