WEST FRANKFORT — Hamilton County sophomore Kylee Vaughan won her second girls title and Carmi-White County freshman Oakley Gee won his first boys title at the Black Diamond Conference golf championships, hosted by the Franklin County Country Club on Wednesday.
"I was thinking title, so I just wanted to go out and have a good time because I play my best when I’m having fun," Gee said.
Gee won his first title with a two-under par 69, beating Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher senior Dalton Saeger by five strokes. Gee also got off to a bad start with a triple bogey on his second hole, but that would turn out to be his only bogey of the round.
"It was a tough start," Gee said. "I hooked my drive and punched out just left of the fairway. I then hooked the hybrid and hit the path a couple times, and it ended up going on the edge of a bush. But I didn’t let it fluster me and kind of relaxed and thought through the situation with my coach. We decided taking an unplayable wouldn’t be the best option, because I would still be behind trees. So I just hit it out and hit over the front of the green and putted it up from off the green. I then missed a short putt, which was kind of hectic."
Gee recovered quickly with a back-to-back birdies on his next two holes and closed out the front nine with birdies on seven and nine to make the turn at one under par.
"I was thinking there are 18 holes in a round of golf, so I wasn’t going to let it bother me, and kept grinding it out because I knew with as many par fives on this course I could make some birdies and get it back, which I did," Gee said.
Gee then breezed through the back nine making par on the first seven holes before bagging his fifth birdie on the round on hole 17. He closed out with a par.
"At the turn I was thrilled to birdie four out of the last seven holes," Gee said. "I was in the group of ones so I had an idea of what it would take to win on the back nine, so I thought hit a lot of greens and make some putts and if you don’t make leave them near the hole for two-putts. I stuck to my plan and hit at least seven greens on the back."
Vaughan won the title with a six-over par 77, 16 strokes better than Carmi-White County junior Allie Gee.
"Repeating as champ was a goal of mine, so I’m really happy with that even though I didn’t play very well," Vaughan said. "I couldn’t putt today and kept missing by a few inches. I would miss it short by a few inches or just left or just right. I just couldn’t get the hang."
Vaughn opened with bogeys on two of her three holes, and then went through a stretch of four bogeys on six holes, including a double, but finished strong with a birdie and four pars on her last six holes. She finished with two birdies and seven bogeys.
"My first birdie on the par 5 hole seven I was on in two and two putted," Vaughan said. "My first putt was probably 30 yards, but I missed by a few inches. My second on 13, my drive was off in the rough, leaving me with a 50-yard shot. Then I hit it up and it was about five-feet and I made that."
Vaughan and her teammates led Hamilton County to its first conference title in school history. Junior Bailey Stricklin carded a 101 followed by junior Jaylee Glen (104) and senior Zoe Hrindich (114) for a team score of 396, 25 better than Carmi's 425.
"This is the first ever for the girls," said Hamilton County coach Kim Vaughan. "Our number one Kylee Vaughan came through. Bailey’s 101 is a low tournament score for her and Jaylee with a 104, which was a nice score for her, but what did it for us was our No. 4 Zoe with a 114. This is the first year she’s played and she has worked hard and has a good-looking swing. Every stroke counts when it comes to winning tournaments."
Eldorado (437) finished third, followed by Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher (461), two-time defending champion Trico (497) and Chester (510).
For the boys, Carmi-White County knocked off four-time defending champion Hamilton County by 33 strokes with a team score of 314 to win its first title since 2013.
For the Bulldogs, sophomore Ty Barbre finished third overall with a 76 followed by sophomore Kaden Carter with an 82 and sophomore Kacee Fulkerson at 87.
"We had two guys who were playing really good golf and three guys were playing good enough to win, which is kind of what we played most of the year," said Carmi-White County coach Trey Mason. "When we are playing our best golf, look out. I feel like we’re peaking at the right time and if we’re firing on all cylinders we could be dangerous in the postseason."