Nerves, champ catch up to Hale

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Ingomar’s Molly Hale had one word to describe her one-stroke loss Tuesday to St. Patrick’s Jessica Parker in the MHSAA Class I state golf tournament.
“Nerves,” she said. “I had a few bad holes to start and I couldn’t get focused.”
Parker, a junior and the defending state champion, was focused enough to erase the eighth grader’s five-stroke lead, but still needed a go-for-broke chip shot on the final hole to clinch medalist honors at Patrick Farms.
“One of my teammates told me, ‘Dude, there’s no way you’re going to beat (Hale),’ ” Parker said. “I knew I had to play calm today and not have a bad hole.
“I didn’t. I kept it to pars and bogeys all day. I wanted this really bad.”
Parker thought she was down a stroke when she teed off on the final hole.
“That’s what my grandfather told me. I was freaking out,” said Parker, whose chip shot on No. 9 landed four feet from the cup. “I thought I needed par to stay in.”
The two players were actually tied through 17 holes.
Parker sank her putt for par while Hale, who had to chip from a green-side bunker, bogeyed her final hole.
Hale tied it on No. 8 with a chip to within two feet and a par putt while Parker missed a 10-footer for par.
Parker’s two-day total was 86-83 – 169, while Hale’s was 81-89 – 170.
“One stroke, I’m not happy about that,” said a disappointed 14-year-old Hale, whose brother, Matt, plays for the boys varsity team. “I finished fourth last year and I wanted to come back this year and win.
“I wished I’d had a bigger lead today. I missed a couple of putts yesterday that I should have made.”
Hale’s day started out rough when she hit her tee shot into the water on No. 10, her first hole. She later recorded an eight on a par 4 No. 17, two holes after she fired her lone birdie.
“I had a bad day,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll qualify and be back next year.”
St. Patrick won the team championship while St. Andrew’s placed second.