In a Muhammad Ali moment, Stephanie Miller delivered a punch line.
"I'm the greatest," she said.
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The always humble Miller checks her ego at the first tee box. She was talking about missing tap-in putts, smiling sheepishly.
Yes, even the great ones, like the best to ever tee up a golf ball for Stevenson's girls, miss short putts.
"I can always find a way to mess things up," Miller said, laughing.
Truthfully? The University of Illinois-bound senior always cleans up.
Her 1-under-par 71 at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest on Tuesday marked her third straight North Suburban Conference championship. She finished 9 strokes ahead of Wauconda sophomore Annette Yandall (80) and Zion-Benton junior Morgan Kukla (80), who finished second and third, respectively.
Miller's round -- the fifth 18-hole tournament she's won this season -- included 5 birdies and 4 bogeys.
"It was very up and down," she said.
Stevenson experienced highs and lows too. The Patriots' five-year reign at NSC champions ended thanks to Lake Forest, which had five girls break 90 in posting a winning 338. Two strokes back was runner-up Mundelein (340), which earned its highest finish ever, while Stevenson (343) was third. Libertyville (350) and Warren (386) rounded out the top five in the eight-team field.
Mundelein received matching 83s from Courteney Fabbri (sixth) and Lorrielle Martin (eighth). The Mustangs also counted Cristina Loverde's 86 (ninth) and Hannah Thompson's 88. Holly Gotlund, the team's season-long No. 2, struggled, but Martin and Loverde carded their best scores of the season.
"We had a great day," Mundelein coach Barb Hartwig said. "Our strength has been our depth, and we proved it today."
Yandall competed as an individual since Wauconda does not have a girls team. She played for Wauconda's boys team during the regular season, often beating her male teammates, despite playing from the same tees.
"It was a lot different," Yandall, who placed sixth in the NSC last year, said of Tuesday's tournament. "The yardage was (shorter), but I still hit my ball great. Usually, when I play (against the boys), I go a club up. But with the girls, I had to go a club down."
This is only the fifth year that Yandall has been playing golf, a game she learned from her grandfather.
"He wanted one of his grandchildren to play," Yandall said. "I'm his oldest so he chose me. He got me into lessons and I liked it."
Miller's adventurous day started on the par-4 first hole, when she hit her approach shot into the right bunker.
"Every single year I'm in the right bunker, and I've never made an up-and-down," Miller said.
Tuesday, she made her up-and-down.
But she then bogeyed No. 2, taking 3 putts to sink her golf ball. So much for momentum.
"That was my first 3-putt in about a week and a half, two weeks," Miller said. "It was really disappointing."
It would be her first of 3 three-putts.
She followed up with back-to-back birdies, reaching the par-5 third in two.
"Missed an eagle putt from about eight feet," Miller said. "Disappointed with that."
She then bogeyed the par-5 sixth, which was playing only 380 yards.
"How do you do that?" Miller said, laughing at herself. "That's like a par 4."
How? By chunking a chip, which she did on her third shot.
"I was like, 'You haven't chunked a chip since you were like 12,' " Miller said.
On No. 9, she three-putted -- from 6 feet, missing, yes, a one-footer that would have been for par.
"I went up there just to tap it in, and it lipped out," she said.
She chipped in for par on No. 11. On the 12th, a dogleg-right par 5, she made a 7-foot putt for birdie, despite pulling a 3-wood nearly into the water.
"I went from almost losing a ball to making a birdie," she said.
She sandwiched a bogey on No. 15 with birdies on Nos. 14 (10-foot putt) and 16 (3-foot putt).
She finished par, par.
"That's my up-and-down day," said Miller, who played with Kukla, Lake Forest's Paige Skinner and Libertyville's Camilla Ou, all of whom have honed their swing under the tutelage of Jon Reese.
"It was a fun day."
Ou's 81 earned her the fourth-place medal. Emily Young also shot an 81 (fifth), as she paced Lake Forest. Stevenson's No. 2, Nikki Marquardt, had a 90, but the Patriots got season-best scores from sophomores Surya Vijayasanka (89) and Stephanie Namkoong (93), who broke 100 for the first time.