After having its state championship streak ended in rude fashion last season, Lexington’s girls golf team can safety be characterized as a group on a mission in 2012.
The Wildcats saw their run of seven straight Class 4A titles – the longest active girls golf streak in the nation – come to a bitter end at the state tournament where the host Wren Golden Hurricanes blew away the field to claim their first championship. Moreover, Wren took full advantage of playing on its home course, compiling a winning score of 597. It was the first time in South Carolina girls golf history that a team posted a 36-hole score below 600.
“Wren was a very good team that played very well over two days,” said Lexington coach Brandon Smith. “We were only behind by eight strokes after the first day, so it was still doable for us, but we just didn’t play well in the second round.”
Earlier this week at the Wren Golden Hurricane Invitational on the same Brookstone Meadows layout in Anderson, the Wildcats gained some measure of satisfaction while making a little history of their own. Lexington finished with a winning score of 591 – a new state record for a 36-hole tournament – and became the first South Carolina team to ever shoot below par as a team while posting a 2-under team of 286 in the first round of play on Sunday. “It was quite a day,” said Smith. “To shoot a score like that, the entire team has to be playing well and that was certainly the case.”
Lauren Stephenson led the record round with a 5-under 67, and Ann Elizabeth Gore also broke par with a 71. The two were backs by Hailey Cleary (73) and Sydney Legacy (75). Stephenson finished with a 1-under tournament total of 141 strokes, followed by Legacy (148), Cleary (149) and Gore (153).
Lexington is now 3-0 at major tournaments, previously prevailing at the Palmetto Preview and the Thoroughbred Invitational hosted by South Aiken. Stephenson, Legacy and Cleary shared the team lead with 74s at the Palmetto Preview, and Stephenson led the pack with a 1-under 71 at the Thoroughbred affair.
Lexington’s next test is a 36-hole tournament hosted by the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association on Hilton Head Island this weekend. The format is a bit different with teams limited to four entries and the top three scores counting toward to team total.
“The format should make it interesting because our biggest advantage is having a strong fourth player,” said Smith.