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Whalen finishes 14th in state

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By Lee Kendall

It didn’t play out quite like she envisioned it, but the end result was just fine for Polly Whalen.

Whalen, a junior golfer at Harrison County High School, finished her rain-shortened first round on Wednesday last week, had a quick lunch, then went right back on the course for another 18 holes of golf in the Leachman Pontiac-Buick-GMC/KHSAA Girls’ State Golf Tournament at the Bowling Green Country Club.

She played just three holes on Tuesday’s opening day of the 36-hole tournament due to rain, then had to come back Wednesday to finish the 15 holes she failed to play in that  round on the rain-soaked and soggy 5,800 yard course, plus 18 more.

The wait was well worth it for Whalen.

She survived a tough stretch through the back-nine on Wednesday morning to finish with a first-round 83 and make the cut for the afternoon’s final round.

On that back nine, Whalen’s birdie on the par three 13th hole had dropped her score to six-over par. However, over the next four holes, she carded three bogies and a double-bogey to make her a little anxious about making the cut.

“I lost a little bit of focus during that stretch and hit a few bad shots,” she explained.

Her coach had a different explanation.

“I was a little unsure about that stretch of holes before Polly even played them,” said her coach, Kelly Kendall. “In the practice round on Monday, Polly didn’t get a chance to play those holes, so she really didn’t know what to expect there. We just ran out of daylight on Monday and couldn’t get those holes in.”

As it turned out, in spite of that bad stretch, Whalen easily made the cut with that 83.

Teeing off on No. 10 to start the final round, Whalen opened with a par, but then had a double-bogey five on the 11th.  She settled in and parred the next four holes before taking a bogey five on 16. She bounced back nicely with a birdie three on 17, but then suffered another double bogey on the long par-five 18th to card a 40 on her first nine.

“Double bogies just killed me during the entire tournament,” said Whalen. “I had six double bogies in the two rounds. If I just limited those to bogies, it would have cut six shots off my score and I would have finished in the top 10.”

On her second nine of the second round, Whalen avoided the dreaded double bogey. She had four bogies and a birdie to shoot 39 and finish with 79 on the day, four shots better than her opening round 83.

Her 18-over-par score of 162 tied her for 14th overall with Kristin Wilkinson of Glasgow. Freshman Emma Talley of Caldwell County shot a blistering seven-under par 65 during the first round to open a commanding lead and followed that up with a second-round 69 to win the individual title by nine shots over second-place finisher Lydia Gumm, of North Hardin, herself an eighth-grader.

“Polly is the first girl I’ve had to make the cut and play in the second round of the state tournament,” said Kendall. “I’m so excited for her. Besides being a really good golfer, Polly is a fine young lady. She has set the bar for herself and now has something to shoot for next year.”

One thing she has to shoot for is a regional title, but that won’t be easy to obtain.

She finished second in the regional tournament leading up to the state tournament. However, Megan Wilshire, who won that tournament, is just a freshman at Scott County High School and finished third overall at the state tournament with a two-day total of 148.