CENTRALIA — On a warm, windy Thursday when Greenview Golf Club brought nearly every golfer to her knees, Hamilton County’s Kylee Vaughan was the one girl who matched the small course’s considerable challenge.
Playing with the consistency that eluded nearly everyone else at the Class 1A Centralia Regional, Vaughan fired a 1-over par 71 to claim a 12-shot victory that did nothing to dissuade one of the notion that she might win a state championship next weekend in Decatur.
“My driving and approaches were good, but my putting wasn’t as good,” she said. “I had a lot of two-putts that I think should have been birdies. It seemed like I missed a lot of 10-foot putts. I’ll definitely be working on that before the sectional.”
Vaughan’s track record indicates she’ll figure it out. The battle-tested junior is a defending sectional champ who also played in July’s Junior PGA Girls Championship near Hartford, Conn. Her goal coming into the season was to go unbeaten, and she’s two more steps from checking off every item on that list.
Greenview measures just 4,823 yards from the red tees, but the scenic par-70 layout didn’t need length to dominate the field. Tight fairways, several water hazards and a breeze that made its presence known as the day wore on served as a toxic combination.
Only three golfers broke 90, and there were scores as high as 160. But Vaughan stayed out of trouble, parring 15 holes, bogeying two and logging one birdie. A bogey on 18 prevented her from an even-par round.
“The highest score she’s had this year has been a 73,” said Foxes assistant coach Barry Vaughan, her father. “Today was just solid golf all the way around, no big blow-up holes. She did a good job of eliminating mistakes. She was just steady all the way through.”
Finishing a distant second was Nashville’s Rylee White with an 83, but that round was good enough to lift the Hornettes over Waltonville for the team title. Nashville’s 362, which was eight strokes lower than the Spartans, gave it its seventh regional title in coach Doug Kell’s 10 years.
You have free articles remaining.
Kell felt the Hornettes were going to have a good day as soon as he saw them step off the bus.
“The attitude can be different sometimes,” he said. “They can be squirrely; they’re high school kids. But they were a little more business-like today. They were ready to get down to business.”
Nashville and Waltonville were the only teams that didn’t have to count a score in the 100s, but White’s 83, which was burnished by a 39 on the shorter but tougher back nine, was the difference. Only Kylee Vaughan topped her on the back nine with a 37.
Kell joked that White played well because he didn’t witness most of her round.
“That’s what my friends tell me, anyway,” he laughed. “But you know, she’s just steady. She doesn’t overpower the course, but she hits it straight, and on a course like this, you have to hit it straight.”
Hamilton County took the last team spot for Monday’s Mount Carmel Sectional. Carmi-White County’s Allie Gee, Woodlawn’s Macy Williams and the Pinckneyville duo of Kally Mayo and Breyona Schandl also advanced to the sectionals.
They, along with most everyone else in the field, will likely play the chase game against the polished Vaughan. Her eyes are set on not just a sectional championship, but the biggest championship one can win in IHSA golf.
“It’s a goal of mine,” she said of a state title. “It would be really exciting to realize that goal.”