CARBONDALE — Pinckneyville senior Megan Breslin needed a playoff with her twin sister to win the Mississippi Division title, while and Massac County junior Madie Coakley won the Ohio Division individual title by one stroke at the SIRR girls golf championships hosted by Hickory Ridge Golf Center Tuesday.
“My very first tee shot I hit it right into the trees, but my second nine started with a birdie, so towards the end I got a little better,” Breslin said. “After all those years of tying and finishing second or third I finally actually won. I’m excited.”
The Breslin twins have played in the shadow of four-time conference champion Avery Rea for the last three years. Last year Megan finished tied with Rea for first, but lost in a playoff, while Sarah finished third.
In 2016 the twins tied for second, while as freshmen, Sarah beat Megan by four strokes to finish second.
Playing in the same foursome, the twins opened regulation play on the back nine with Megan holding a two-stroke lead at turn. Sarah struggled a bit with two bogies and a double bogey on back nine, but finished strong with eight pars and a 20-foot birdie on the front.
“I usually do worse on the back nine here, so I was skeptical when we started on the back,” Sarah said. “After I got the back out of the way I could relax, so that’s why I did better on the front. I made a pretty decent putt for that birdie, which I didn’t think I was going to make, so I was happy.”
Megan still led by two with three holes left, but suffered bogies on seven and nine while Sarah had finished with three pars for both to finish at three-over par 75.
“The reason I had the playoff was on my last hole I hit into the water,” Megan said. “The left was wide open, but for some reason I hit it right.”
On the first playoff hole, Megan notched a great up-and-down after her second shot put her on a hill to the right of the green. Meanwhile, Sarah’s second shot left her on the front of the green about two feet in. Their third shots left them with short putts for par.
“My approach shot ... I don’t know what I was thinking,” Megan said. “I didn’t want to go into the sand, which was on the left, but when it faded to the right I thought, “Oh, gosh," but it turned out ok. I was definitely lucky. On the second hole, I saw Sarah hit it in the bunker, so that made me feel a little better. She chunked her second shot, so I just went for the green.”
Megan’s tee shot on the par 5 hole two landed her on the left side of the fairway while Sarah ended up in the second bunker on the right side. Megan’s second shot was right down the middle, but Sarah chunked her bunker shot, leaving her in the right rough in a shallow rut.
Megan’s approach shot left her with a seven-foot putt above and to the right of the pin, while Sarah’s third shot was short of the green to the right, and her fourth shot left her with a six-foot putt below the pin.
Megan’s birdie putt skimmed the left rim, leaving her with a one-foot putt coming back, which she tapped in for par. Sarah needed to make her putt to send it to a third hole, but she was just wide to the right.
“It was funny ... my second hole was the exact same way I played it the first time, but I made the putt the first time,” Sarah said.
Coakley, who finished tied for fourth last year, opened on the front nine in the same foursome with her teammate and defending champion Millie Lawson and Hannah Gahagan, who finished second last year, third in 2016 and fifth in 2015.
The front nine was rough for all three golfers, with Coakley suffering four bogies, Lawson four single bogies, one double bogey and Gahagan two double bogies and a single bogey. Coakley held a three-stroke lead at the turn because of birdies on holes five and eight, while Lawson had a birdie on six.
Coakley stumbled badly on the first three holes of the back nine with a double bogey followed by back-to-back single bogies. That allowed Gahagan to take the lead with a birdie, a par and a bogey and Lawson to pull into a tie with two pars and a bogey.
Gahagan expanded her lead to two strokes with three holes remaining when Coakley suffered a bogey on 15, but dropped back a stroke with a bogey on 16, and then into a tie when Coakley sank a birdie on 17. Lawson dropped out of the tie with back-to-back bogies on 14 and 15.
“I don’t keep track of my score when I play because it messes me up, so I had no clue how close it was,” Coakley said. “I usually have at least one or two birdies, but I’ve never had three before and they helped me out a lot.”
Coakley suffered a bogey on 18 to open the door, but Lawson could only save par and Gahagan a double bogey allowing Coakley to hold onto a one-stroke victory with a seven-over 79.
“My first shot there was a tree and I couldn’t go over it, so I had to aim left, but didn’t get it tight enough and hit it to the sand trap,” Coakley said. “I was left with a 20-foot putt for par and missed it by an inch. I was pretty mad. I didn’t know I won until I got back to pavilion to tally up.”
The Breslins and their teammates easily knocked off two-time champion Nashville by 90 strokes with a team score of 334 to win the Mississippi team title for the second time in the last four years.
“We are kind of blessed with three seniors that have played for all four years,” said Pinckneyville coach Dan Breslin. “We were always kind of short at No. 4, but Kally Mayo – a junior – broke 100 for the first time today. I think she’s going to come a long way to help us with regionals and sectionals. We also beat Massac County today. To beat the state champs by one stroke is huge.”
In addition to the Breslins, Pinckneyville had two other all-conference winners. Senior Graci McDaniel won her second straight by finishing fourth with a 91 and Mayo her first, finishing fifth with a 93.
Carterville junior Ali Lamb earned an All-Conference medal for the second straight year by finishing third with an 84.
Massac County won its fifth straight Ohio title and its 15th of the 16 years by 88 strokes over Harrisburg with a team score of 335.
“I think we’re better than last year,” said Massac County coach Laurie Glass. “I have seven girls with one that rotates at six. I have three girls who shoot in the 70s, so I think all in all we’re a better team.”
The Lady Patriots had six golfers finish in the top 10 to earn All-Conference medals. Coakely won her second straight medal while Lawson won her fourth with a second place finish (80), senior Mady Blair her third finishing fifth (89), senior Madison Cunningham her second straight with a seventh (95) with sophomores Lily Conkle and McKinnley Korte their first with a fifth (89), and a ninth (98), respectively.
Murphysboro senior Hannah Gahagan earned her fourth All-Conference medal with a third place finish having lost a scorecard tiebreaker to Lawson.