Interview with WSCGA Junior Champion Rachel Rich
The tenth hole on the Devils Elbow Course at Moss Creek Plantation owed Rachel Rich.
In the first round of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association Junior championship, Rich carded a triple bogey on the hole.
At the end of the 54 regulation holes Rich got to play the hole again, this time in a sudden death playoff with Savannah Hylton for the championship.
“I tried to block that (triple bogey) out and just focus on my game,” she said. “That shot was in the past and I wanted to stay in the present,” said Rich.
The Mount Pleasant golfer was not only able to block out the triple bogey, but put bogeying the final two holes of regulation out of her mind as well. A par or better on either of the holes would have given her the championship without a playoff.
After a solid drive, Rich hit a near perfect pitching wedge to within three feet of the hole.
“I knew what I did wrong when I had the triple so I was going to make sure I didn’t do the same thing again,” she said.
Hylton, from Hilton Head Island, shot the best final round posting an even par 72 to earn her place in the playoff.
She made Rich work for the win. Her second shot was short of the green, but her pitch stopped within 10 feet of the hole.
“When I saw Rachel’s ball I knew she could make it. I just wanted to get close enough in case she missed,” said Hylton.
Rich didn’t miss. Her short putt went in the center of the cup and she was the new state champion.
The rising high school sophomore shot rounds of 75 – 68 – 74 for a 217 total.
Her second round 4-under par 68 tied Isabella Rawl from Lexington for the lowest round in the tournament.
Rawl missed being in the playoff by one shot finishing with a 54 hole total of 218, in third place.
The future Clemson golfer was assessed a one stroke penalty for slow play after recording a half dozen individual “bad times” and being out of position for much of the round.
“It was one of the things you hate to do, but you have to protect the field,” said WSCGA Executive Director Clarissa Childs.
The second place finish for Hylton, to go along with a win at the Charles Tilghman last year, gives the future Furman golfer a pair of resume topping results.
“It is nice to have a good finish when you look at the players in the field for this tournament,” said Hylton.
Rich shot rounds of 75-68-74 to finish regulation at 1-over par 217.
“I’ve had a few second and third place finishes so it is great to get a win. I have been working very hard to get better and it paid off, I’m really happy to be a state champion,” said Rich.
Abigail Schimpf opened the tournament with the lead. The Daniel Island golfer survived a start and stop round because of weather to post a 2-under par 70. She followed up the first round with a 1-under par 71 to hold a one shot lead going into the final round.
Schimpf struggled on the final nine holes and lost the lead to both Hylton and Rich. She finished with a 77 in a tie with Rawl for third place at 218.
Sophia Burnett from Colleton River in Bluffton finished in fifth place at 219 with Woodfin Ridge golfer Mary Kathryn Tolledo coming in sixth and Chloe Holder from Southern Oaks in seventh place.
The Second Division title was won by Katie Whitfield from Clemson. The future Bowling Green golfer finished two shots in front of Kayleigh Reinke from the Waterford Golf Club for second.
Sarah Boteler from the Furman Golf Club finished third in the division while Amber Amaker from Woodfin Ridge was fourth.
The tournament also determined the team for the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge Matches to be played August 4-5 at Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee with early morning tee times both days.
Team members will be Rachel Rich, Savannah Hylton, Abigail Schimpf, Isabella Rawls, Sophia Burnett and Mary Kathryn Talledo.