SHEPHERD — Fairfield's Emma Woods and Baker's Konner Flint took different routes to their individual State B golf titles at Eaglerock Golf Course in Shepherd on Wednesday.
Woods essentially led wire to wire, as her Tuesday 78 gave her a two-shot lead entering Wednesday's final round. Woods fired a 76 on Wednesday to defeated Jefferson's Celi Chapman by 10 shots.
Flint entered Wednesday's final round one stroke back of Conrad's Jarek Shepherd and Missoula Loyola's Zeke Boos. Flint, who started on No. 10, capped off his opening nine by holing out from 80 yards for eagle on the par-5 18th.
"It went in. I came up here and it was in. I kind of realized it was in. I don’t know. I thought it was kind of cool, because that was only the second time I’ve ever done that. So it’s kind of new to me, holing out from 80-100 yards," said Flint.
Flint kept the momentum rolling and birdied No. 4. His round turned to a grind from there, as his tee shots began to miss the fairway. Flint, though, had built a six-shot lead over Boos and Shepherd through nine holes and had just enough cushion to hold them off. Flint played the par-4 9th safely and scraped out a bogey to claim the title.
Flint nearly gave away his lead on the par-5 7th. He yanked his tee shot to the right, then pulled his second shot even farther right, flirting with disaster in the hazard on hole No. 2. Flint was somehow able to play his ball and keep his lead intact.
"My first shot ended up under a tree. My second shot, I hooked it more than I wanted to. It was in the hazard, but there was this little dirt patch it was in. It was about two feet from the tarp, which if it hit the tarp it would have gone in the water," Flint said. "There were some rocks there and I was kind of questioning myself, 'Do I hit this? Do I break my club possibly?' I could have very well broke the club, but I had to hit it. If I didn't I might have lost right there."
The nerves were really racing for Flint on the final tee, as his tee shot came up just mere inches from the water on the right. With the ball below his feet, Flint hit a low, sweeping draw that found its way onto the putting surface. A three-putt would give Flint the title over Boos by one shot after Boos carded a par on No. 9. Shepherd finished third after shooting 83.
"I don’t think it has (sunk in) quite yet. It doesn’t seem real right now. The way I’ve been playing this year, it didn’t seem like I would ever be here right now in this moment," said Flint, who credits advice from a friend for his late-season turnaround. "Par was a good score on every hole. It wasn't just birdie, birdie, birdie everywhere, which it can be here. It definitely can be. With the wind (Wednesday), it just wasn't."
Woods had far less pressure throughout the course of her final round. Woods was 2-under-par through five holes and went out in 37. Woods was then 1-under-par on the back nine before faltering over the final two holes and shooting 39.
"Immediately from the start of (Wednesday), I was much more relaxed than I was (Tuesday). As soon as I hit my first tee shot I knew it was going to be a good day. I was way more relaxed," Woods said. "It's super exciting and I'm stoked about it. I knew towards the end I was probably going to win and I started to get really excited about it."
Although the wind was howling on Wednesday afternoon, a far cry from the heat that baked golfers on Tuesday, Woods didn't seem affected by it.
"The wind, it actually helped me on one hole because I could still hit my driver off the tee and not make the hazard because of the wind at my face," Woods said. "Other than that, the wind didn't affect me too much. I didn't find it impeding on my game or anything."
Woods will have a shot to defend her State B golf title next spring, while Flint will move on to Dickinson State to continue his golf career.
Neither Woods nor Flint had a hand in bringing home a team trophy, though. The Columbus boys and girls swept the State B team titles at Eaglerock, despite not having a single golfer place inside the top five on either side.
"I knew our girls, the way they were playing, would have a good shot. I knew our boys would have to play better than they have most of the year to beat Loyola and Conrad, and they did. The both of them did it. They stepped up, made it happen and played well at the right time. It was good for both of them," Columbus head coach Jeromey Burke said. "It's a pretty big disadvantage to not have that 74 to go against Flint and those guys, but when your fourth kid on the boys side is shooting 88 and the girls, we had everyone in the 90s (Wednesday). There's two ways to win it. One way is to not have someone shoot real low and have everyone shoot decent, and we did it that way."