Elle Johnson was not just playing in a golf tournament, she was on a mission. The Spartanburg golfer had a goal to play her best golf in the AAAAA state championship.
“I wanted to redeem myself because I have not played very well in the state championship,” Johnson said. “I also wanted to represent Spartanburg since our team didn’t make it to state,” she said.
Johnson redeemed herself by winning the individual title. The high school junior shot identical rounds of 71 to finish at 2-under par and win the AAAAA title by three shots over Emily Dunlap of Mauldin.
The future Florida State golfer started the final round tied with Gracyn Burgess of Lexington, but the two golfers seemed to playing in two different tournaments.
As an individual Johnson was in the first group off the tee in the final round. Burgess as a member of the tournament leading Lexington team was in the last group of the day.
“I really never had any idea what Gracyn was doing. The only thing I could do was just focus on my game and concentrate on every shot,” said Johnson.
The difference in tee times meant that Johnson was finishing her round as Burgess was making the turn. She would have to wait a couple of hours to see if her 2-under par total would hold up for the win.
“I sat around for awhile and then I did some homework. When I heard that Gracyn and I might be tied I started to go to the driving range in case there would be a playoff,” said Johnson.
The future Florida State golfer didn’t need to warm up because there would be no playoff.
Burgess needed a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff, but she pulled her tee shot into a pond and finished with a triple bogey.
The future Clemson golfer carded a 3-over par 75 to drop back to third place, four shots behind Johnson.
Without a team with her Johnson was pleased that Spartanburg High School Principle Jeff Stevens, Athletic Director Todd Staley and Golf Coach Dana Mason were on hand to support her in the final round.
“I have had great support this year from my teammates and my school. I have worked very hard with my coach Danny Stewart and it has paid off,” she said.
Emily Dunlap from Mauldin was also an individual entrant in the tournament. The three-time Upper State champion completed her best state final tournament by finishing second.
“I am happy that I had my best finish in state, but I am also a little disappointed because I know I could have played a little better,” she said.
Dunlap pointed to a triple bogey in the first round and a couple of three putt greens that could have been the difference between third and first place.
The high school junior shot rounds of 72 and 73 to finish at 1 over par 143. It was her best finish in the state championship.
“After I made the triple I made three birdies, but I would have liked to have that one swing back, but that’s golf,” said the AAAAA runner-up.
The team title was won by Lexington with another convincing performance. The Wildcats are just about unbeatable at The Country Club of Lexington.
In recent history only the 2015 Dorman Cavaliers have been able to stop the Wildcats when the championship is played on their home course.
Lexington shot rounds of 299 and 307 for a 606 total. The Wildcats finished 49 shots in front of the Upstate champions from Boiling Springs.
The defending champions finished with four golfers inside the top-10.
This was the second straight victory for Lexington and the 12th state title for the most dominant girls golf program in the state.
Boiling Springs had their best showing in the state tournament. The Bulldogs struggled in the first round, but all the Boiling Springs golfers played better in the second round to move past River Bluff.
Boiling Springs was led by Amber Amaker who finished in ninth place in the individual standings.