For the second year in a row, the A.C. Flora girls golf team got off to a slow start at the Class 3A state tournament at Quail Creek GC in Myrtle Beach.
This time, however, the early stumble did not keep the Falcons from reaching their goal of claiming the program’s first state title. ACF closed first-round play on Monday with a score of 325, six shots behind front-running Hilton Head.
“I’m very familiar with this golf course, so I know where the trouble is and how to avoid it,” said second-year Falcons coach Harry Huntley.
“We had a plan, but we didn’t stick to it as much as we should. We took some poor angles at times, and were shooting at the pin instead of the middle of the green. But the girls did not hang their heads, even though it was the second year in a row this had happened on the same course. They knew they could still win if they played their games in the second round. We played much better in the second round last year, but we just had too much ground to make up. This year, we got it done.”
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Flora shaved 14 strokes off its first-round team score, finishing at 311. Hilton Head, on the other hand, scored 318 to finish one stroke behind the jubilant Falcons.
“It wasn’t like Hilton Head collapsed in the second round,” said Huntley. “They actually improved a little, but we had it all together. We didn’t deviate from the plan, and every girl contributed something to the team win.”
Ironically, ACF’s first-round leaders Collins Bradshaw and Lauren Dunbar actually shot higher scores on Tuesday. Bradshaw (73) and Dunbar (79) both finished with rounds one stroke higher than on Monday.
The real difference was the dramatically improved play by Virginia Lesslie and Mary Legare Augenstein. Lesslie’s 92 on Monday did not even count toward the team score, but she turned around to fire a 79 on Tuesday. Legare Augenstein dropped from 85 to 80 on Tuesday – her lowest score ever at a competitive tournament.
The long wait is at an end. The Falcons have been flirting with glory for a number of seasons. ACF finished second in 2009 in Huntley’s first season in charge, was third in 2008 and 2007 and runner-up in 2006.
And with Dunbar the only senior, the Falcons will likely return next fall as the team to beat.
Dunbar (78-79 – 157) just missed the all-state cut for the second time. She finished 11th in her final prep outing after a 12th-place finish a year ago. Not bad, considering she shot a 104 at state as a seventh-grader in 2005.
Bradshaw (72-73 – 145) matched her best two-round state score, but finished two spots higher. The junior standout has earn all-state status four times in five tries – finishing fourth in 2009, tied for sixth in 2007 and sixth in 2006. The only time she missed the cut was in 2008 when she placed 12th in 3A’s last one-day state meet in 2008.
Huntley now has a girls title on the resume to go along with the five championships the Falcons boys have secured since 2003. No coach has won more state championships at A.C. Flora than Huntley.