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The Bowling Green Country Club has been a bugaboo of sorts for the Shelby County girls’ golf team during the past few years.
In spite of finishing third, seventh and fourth at the KHSAA Championships in Anna Simpson’s first three years as coach, the Rockets routinely have had trouble duplicating their regular-season successes at BGCC.
“That course is never kind to us,” Simpson said Monday after the Rockets clinched their fifth consecutive berth in the event with a runner-up finish in the Region 5 Tournament. “We do all right when we go down there for tournaments [during the regular season], but when we go down there for state, it’s a different story. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s the pressure, or what….There’s just this block up when we go down there for State.”
The Rockets will try to knock that block down when they take the course Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We just have to play the best we can,” junior Jordan Webb said. “We have to all do our best and support each other to do our best.”
Webb, the runner-up at the Region 5 Tournament earlier this week, was Shelby’s top finisher last year – tying for ninth overall with a 13-over-par 157 – and the Rockets carded a collective 694, two shots behind runner-up Green County but 45 from state champ Sacred Heart Academy. That came after Shelby shot 702 while finishing seventh in 2010 and third in 2009.
“There are several holes that always kick our butt,” Simpson said. “So we have to go in with a strategy for those specific holes.”
In last year’s final round those holes were Nos. 1, 7, 9, 15 and 18, which the Rockets’ top four players (only Shannon Harover is gone from that quartet) played each in 5-over-par.
Two of the biggest causes of those problems, Simpson said, are the Bermuda rough and putting.
“The rough is hard to duplicate,” she said. “And we’ve got to be able to read greens better.”
The Rockets, led by Webb and sophomore Madison Thomas (who through Tuesday rank eighth and sixth, respectively, in the all-state points standings), should be one of the better teams in Bowling Green despite the fact that they have the 11th-best score (343) among the 22 teams who’ll compete in the 2-day tournament.
Defending state champ and Region 5 champ Sacred Heart has the low team score with a 320.
For Shelby, however, that standing doesn’t take into account the difficultly of Long Run Golf Course (site of the Region 5 tourney) as well as the fact that eighth-grader Lilly Young was battling illness that day, freshman Tiffany Grasch was playing her first 18-hole round in more than a month and Webb and Thomas had subpar days (by their standards).
“If Lilly can get a little bit healthier and Jordan and Madison can forget this round, we’ll be fine,” Simpson said Monday. “They’ve just got to learn that if they have a bad break, they still just have to go on. They can’t let it affect them.”
Said Thomas: “I want to play well, and I know I need to play well for my team and myself.”
The Rockets have played well in 18-hole tournaments this season, carding an average of 338.7 in 13 outings. Their highest score was a 398 in last Saturday’s West Jessamine Invitational, when Young didn’t play and Grasch withdrew, and their lowest was a 308 at Notre Dame’s Invitational on Aug. 6. That day Shelby County finished just four shots behind Sacred Heart.
“I’m really confident we can make top ten, and I’m pretty confident we can make top five,” Simpson said Monday. “We can make a run with any of them, but everything is going to have to fall into place.”