DECATUR — Miranda Rohlfing really wanted a score in the 70s, but she just couldn’t find the bottom of the cup for a birdie on the final hole.
But the Effingham St. Anthony senior did shoot four strokes better than she did Friday, finishing 16th at the girls A state golf tournament at Red Tail Run Golf Club on Saturday.
It was a bit of redemption for Rohlfing, who wanted a high finish after missing state last year.
The experience from two state tournaments her first couple of years and the added bonus of a circuit of summer tournaments helped keep the senior loose throughout the weekend.
“I always remember state being so hard, and then I came up here and I was thinking, ‘This is just like a summer tournament.’ It wasn’t so bad,” Rohlfing said. “I think with my experience over the summer, it helped.”
On a day birdies were hard to come by Rohlfing nabbed just one. But she more importantly didn’t have a blowup hole, something that doomed many of her competitors.
That consistency came from every club in her bag.
“I thought I played pretty good. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens so I’m pretty proud of that,” Rohlfing said.
And even though it wasn’t exactly where she wanted to end up, it was close.
“I’m a little nervous. I wanted to get Top 10,” Rohlfing said as she watched scores being tallied, “but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Hopefully I’ll get Top 15.”
While it was the third state run for Rohlfing, several others were getting their first challenge. St. Teresa’s Hayley Rogers said having a dozen people watch every swing took some getting used to.
“I was really nervous,” Rogers said. “My first drive barely got off the ground and I looked at my coach (Gabbi Schuerman) and she said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re playing the wind.’
“And I hit a really good second shot there. After that, the nerves were gone a little bit, but it’s still pretty intimidating playing with all these people.”
Rogers finished 21st and tied with Vandalia’s Raechelle Leiken, who after a solid 79 score on Friday couldn’t recover from a string of bad holes before the rain delay.
Eisenhower was represented for the first time since 2003 by Savannah Myers, who carded a second 84 on Saturday to finish 28th.
Myers said she was glad to advance to state for her senior year.
“It’s awesome. I’m not really used to all these crowds and golfers, and they’re all really skilled. It’s an awesome experience,” she said.
Besides a horrendous hole 11 — Myers carded an 8 — she felt that she had a solid round. She didn’t let the mistakes compound afterward, pulling off a couple of pars to finish.
“It went really good, until I slipped up a little bit on 11…I think my short game got a little better than yes-terday and I needed to work on that,” Myers said
Playing beyond graduation is a goal for the senior, and she said after seeing her score for the tournament it’s something she’ll tackle immediately.
“I would really enjoy that,” Myers said. “I wanted to see how I did here before I sent them out, but I will definitely get on that this weekend.”
Rogers, a junior, will still have another shot at state next year. After starting out 7-over on the first five holes, she and the rest of the field were called back in for two hours to wait out a rain delay.
Rogers said instead of brooding over the early mistakes, it helped her refocus on the rest of the round.
“I was 7-over after five, and I shouldn’t have been, but it’s OK,” Rogers said. “I think the (rain delay) did help me a little bit because I had to set my frame of mind a little bit better. I had to shake off those first four and a half holes.”
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The frustration didn’t quite go away until the middle of the front nine where she had a string of strong scores. It all came together when Rogers had a near chip-in from about 90 yards on hole 6, unable to hold back a smile from a previously serious demeanor.
“I parred (hole 5), and hit that close shot on (hole six), and from then on I had my head up a little higher than at the very beginning,” Rogers said.
Mount Zion’s Ashley Miller had a solid Friday score of 84 to put her within contention of the leaderboard, but after having to re-tee on hole 7 Saturday, followed by several shots out of the rough, led to a devastating 10 on the hole.
“After I do one bad shot, it just goes completely downhill. The fact that I had to go back and hit another one and was still in the weeds every time, I kept hacking and made it worse and worse,” Miller said.
The sophomore said last Monday’s round helped her stay on track afterward though.
After she shot what she thought was a poor round at sectionals, she ending up in a one hole playoff to make it into state.
Miller ended up winning the playoff, and said the experience helped build her back up on Saturday, giving her a bit of energy to smile after a good shot later in the day.
“Every time, I just thought about sectionals and how bad I got down. I was like, ‘you know, I was close not to come here,” Miller said. “I need to just let it go because I’m here already. I can’t do anything about it, so just forget about it.
“That’s when I laughed every time; I just laughed at myself.”
She ended up 46th, right in the middle of the pack for the tournament.
Back for more?
This was the first year since the 1990s that St. Teresa had fielded a girls team. Rogers, a junior, is the only non-senior on the team, leaving the question of whether the Bulldogs will go back to a co-ed team.
Regardless, Rogers said playing with just girls for the past year was more relaxing.
“I enjoyed it. They’re a lot easier to talk to, so it kind of gets rid of some of the nerves,” Rogers said. “But I like playing with the guys because they keep me more focused.”
Taking it all in
Besides the familiarity, Myers said part of the reason she enjoys playing Red Tail Run is because the in-credible landscape of the course.
“It’s different from all the other ones,” Myers said. “The grass is so much — I just can’t even describe it — the back nine is just beautiful. When you get back there, it’s like an oasis.”
Unless you land you in the tall grass, right?
“Yeah, unless you hit a bad shot.”
A bit of history
Myers was the last Eisenhower girl since her coach Julie Cline finished 27th in 2003. Myers just missed beating her coach’s mark by a stroke.
And it seems the competition has gotten better. St. Anthony’s Kelly McHugh shot a 162 in 2010, just two strokes better than Rohlfing, but she placed fourth in state that year compared to Rohlfing’s 16th place.