CINCINNATI — A knee-knocking par-saving putt on No. 11 helped propel Wilmington’s Lilly Middleton to the OHSAA girls state golf tournament.
Middleton shot a 74 and was the low individual during play Tuesday in the Division I Southwest District tournament at Glenview Golf Course.
“I’m glad I made it,” said Middleton, who is a senior at WHS.
The Division I state tournament will be held Oct. 22-23 on Ohio State University’s Gray Course.
Middleton said Glenview didn’t offer a great deal of strategy on this day, despite a little wind.
“You don’t have to layup,” she said. “I hit driver on every hole I could. Just hit it straight, that’s my main goal.”
And that worked fine until she made the turn. Sitting at 37 after nine holes, Middleton was in good shape for her first trip to Columbus.
But a stray tee shot on 10 wouldn’t allow Middleton to go for the pin.
“I was on the edge of the woods and had to punch out; the trees were in my back swing,” Middleton said.
A “decent” shot left her at the front of the green with the pin in back. She just missed a 10-footer for par and settled for a bogey.
On 11, a par 3, Middleton’s tee shot left her well shy of the hole. Faced with a “slopey putt” Middleton’s birdie attempt wasn’t the best and she was staring at a 10-footer for par. Not an ideal situation.
“I thought I’d go bogey-bogey (to start the back),” she said.
And if that happened, it could have signaled the end of Middleton’s chances to extend her season.
“I probably … I would have tried not to, but it’s hard not thinking I’m done,” she admitted.
Instead, Middleton calmly sank the par putt and started a run of six straight pars. She birdied No. 17 and finished her second 37 with a par on 18.
“I think that putt (on 11) helped save me mentally,” she said. “I knew if I played how I’d been playing that I’d have a pretty good chance. I think I played pretty well, especially under the pressure.”