On a windy Wednesday in central Florida, the fickle nature of golf was rudely reinforced to Durant junior Madison Opfer.
The same putter that propelled Opfer into contention on Day 1 of the Class 2A state tournament essentially left her on the fringe of a state crown in Wednesday’s final round at Ocala’s Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club.
Subtract three-putts on three holes, and Opfer would have tied for low-medalist honors. Instead, the Tulane University commitment settled for third place — her third consecutive top-10 state finish — with a two-day, 36-hole total of 4-over-par 148. Opfer shot 2-over 74 both days, albeit in strikingly different fashion.
“(Tuesday) I felt really good about my up-and-downs and my putting. I didn’t strike the ball very well but I was still able to save myself with my up-and-down game,” said Opfer, who finished eighth at state as a freshman and tied for fourth in 2009. “Today I hit the ball good, I just didn’t make the putts I needed to make.”
Joining Opfer in the individual top 20 was Plant junior Kelsey Eisch, who finished with a two-day 160 to tie for 15th. Teammate Laura Hendee added 164 for Plant, which finished seventh in the team standings (726). Eighth-place Plant City finished eight shots behind the Panthers. Freshman Kellyanne Hurst (85-87—172) and junior Belinda George (87-86—173) led the Raiders.
Class A girls: At Ocala Golf Club, a string of five bogeys before the turn essentially thwarted Steinbrenner senior Alex Milan’s hopes of contending for an individual state crown.
Five shots off the lead entering Wednesday’s final round, Milan shot 6-over 78 for a two-day 151, tying her for 16th.
“It’s obviously not the way I wanted to end up states, but it’s golf and it happens,” said Milan, who will sign with FSU next week. “It’s the end of high school golf for me, but it’s not the end of golf.”
After starting Wednesday with a par and birdie, Milan bogeyed the next five holes. She rallied to finish 3 over after nine holes and went to 2 over at one point, but a miserable lie on the edge of a bunker on the par-4 sixth — her 15th hole of the day — resulted in triple bogey.
“That pretty much killed my round right there,” she said.
As a team, the Warriors finished 11th (717). Individually, Holy Names freshman Emmy Martin tied for 45th (86-82—168) and Blake’s Summer Moser finished tied for 48th (86-85—171).
Class 2A boys: At Dunnellon’s Juliette Falls, Newsome sophomore Brian Allen eclipsed 80 both days to help lead the Wolves to a 13th-place finish (633). Wharton (641), which edged the Wolves for the District 11 and Region 4 titles, was 15th.
Allen followed his opening-day 3-over 75 with 77, finishing in a tie for 32nd. Senior teammate Ethan Fowler added 76 for the county’s lowest score of the final round.
Playing their last high school round, Wharton seniors Paul Demick and Balraj Matharu each shot 77 to lead the Wildcats. Individually, Durant senior Connor Hasson shot 80 — two strokes better than his opening round — to finish in 70th.
“I did the last five holes 1 under so that was a great way for me to end my high school career,” Hasson said.
Class A boys: If he exited the state tournament with nothing else, Steinbrenner senior Jordan DeBonis at least walked away with a brand-new favorite hole.
For the second straight day, DeBonis eagled the par-5 No. 4 at the Country Club at Silver Springs Shores en route to 3-over 75 — a seven-shot improvement from Day 1. DeBonis finished tied for 66th with a two-day 157.
“It was enjoyable to see him having a good time in his last high school match,” Warriors coach J.R. Allen said via text message.
DeBonis, who chipped from about 25 feet off the fringe for his first-day eagle, followed with a blast from a bunker of about 20 feet to replicate the feat Wednesday.
Photo by Bruce Ackerman