Ingomar's Hale’s rally falls short in finals

MADISON – Miriam Parker briefly opened the door for Molly Hale, then slammed it shut.
The end result – St. Andrews’ Parker defeated Ingomar’s Hale by four strokes Thursday to win medalist honors in the MHSAA Class I girls state golf tournament at Whisper Lake Country Club.
The usually steady Parker took what looked to be a comfortable five-stroke lead to the 17th hole only to lose two strokes to Ingomar’s freshman standout. It could just as easily been a four-stroke loss.
Parker hit two bad chips, but saved a double bogey with a six-foot putt.
“I had those two bad shots in a row,” Parker said. “All I was thinking about was getting the ball in the hole. I really didn’t know where Molly stood, but I was nervous.”
Hale recorded a par after missing a six-foot birdie attempt. Had Parker missed her putt and Hale birdied, the five-shot lead would have dropped to one with one hole to play.
“I was thinking, ‘All I have to do is make this putt,’’’ Hale said. “I missed it. I had several of those misses today. I had several great opportunities.”
Parker, who led Hale by two strokes after Wednesday’s opening round, recorded a two-day total of 75-70 – 145 to win. Hale, who led last year’s tournament by five strokes after the first round, finished second with a 77-72 – 149.
“I felt like I had a better chance to win today coming from behind,” Hale said. “I did play a better round.”
However, it wasn’t good enough to capture the steady Patrick, whose round included 11 pars and one birdie.
“I just tried to stay consistent,” she said. “I wasn’t going to let anything get into my head at all.”
Two-time defending state champion, St. Patrick’s Jessica Parker, finished third with an 83-79 – 162.
The Whisper Lake course, which features 10 par 3 holes and only two par 5s, did not favor long-ball hitters like Hale.
“I hit my driver well, so all these short holes do not play to my advantage,” Hale said.
This was probably Hale’s final season of girls golf. She is expected to join the boys team next spring.
“I hate it, but they have to have me to have a team,” she said. “I know I have the talent, I just have to show it.”
St. Patrick won the Class I team championship while Northeast Mississippi’s two team entries – West Union and Kossuth – finished fifth and sixth in the standings.
Madison Central won the Class II title while Tupelo was tied for fourth and New Albany was seventh.
Hancock’s Emily Ross was the Class II medalist with a 71-69 – 140 score.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal