The drive, about a 200-mile dogleg right, was a good one.
"We made it in three hours," Stephanie Miller said happily Saturday night after arriving to her home in Kildeer from Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.
Stevenson's peppy and petite junior -- who's 5 feet 3 "maybe with my new spikes on," she says, and whose perspective matches her brilliant golf game -- was equally pleased with her performance (drives included) in the Class 2A state tournament.
No, Miller didn't successfully defend her state championship. She settled for sixth, shooting a 5-over 77 Saturday to finish with a two-day total of 11-over 155, six shots back of champion Allison Walsh of Prospect (5-over 144). Hampshire senior Connie Ellett (plus 6), Crystal Lake Central (Coop) sophomore Lexi Harkins (plus 7), Buffalo Grove junior Grace Kil (plus 8) and Waubonsie Valley freshman Bing Singhsumalee (plus 8) rounded out the top five.
"If I wasn't going to win this, I was hoping to finish in the top 10 again," Miller, who tied for eighth at state as a freshman, said after a weekend of highways and fairways. "That's what I did. So I got that accomplished."
The three-time state medal winner could only applaud Walsh, whose Saturday round featured a 33 on the front nine and 39 on the back (even par). She also led Prospect (643) to the state championship, seven strokes better than runner-up New Trier.
"Allison Walsh played great. I'm very happy for her," Miller said. "It couldn't happen to a nicer girl. It's her senior year, so what a way to go out."
Miller hopes to go out a champion next year. But like this year, she won't fret about winning it all.
"No," she said in typical Stephanie Miller fashion when asked if she felt pressure to duplicate the achievement she pulled off at Hickory Point GC last October. "(Last year) was last year."
Miller entered Saturday tied for fifth after carding a 78 on Day 1. But she bogeyed her opening hole, then doubled the third, and carded two more bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5.
Her 5-over start through five holes never allowed her to recover, despite a birdie on the par-3 eighth.
"Just bad decision-making," Miller said. "I was putting the ball in the wrong place."
She was playing even-par golf on the back nine until double-bogeying the par-3 13th.
She carded one final birdie, a 2 on the par-3 17th, but it wasn't enough.
"I don't know what happened," Miller said. "It wasn't working. I couldn't get things going right away. That didn't help. The wind wasn't as bad as (Friday), but you still had to take it into account."
The par-4 third might have summed up her day. She hit her approach into a greenside bunker and got a fried-egg lie. She blasted her ball over the green and then ran her chip off the green.
She left her 25-foot bogey putt short.
"A two-putt double," Miller lamented. "Great job, Stephanie."