Girls golf: Carmel's Stephens finishes in playoff
As she watched an emotional Lexi Schulman of Vernon Hills be consoled off the ninth putting green, Carmel Catholic's Maria Stephens had empathy.
Stephens remembers playing former New Trier golfer Penelope Tir (the 2017 IHSA state champ) in a playoff during a non-high school tournament. Stephens was "freaking out" so much, she says, that her body was shaking.
"She beat me bad," Stephens said of Tir.
So Stephens promised herself that the next time she was in a playoff, she would keep her composure.
That happened Thursday at Deerpath Golf Course, as the junior outlasted the freshman Schulman in a playoff to win the Class 2A Lake Forest regional, after both golfers shot a 5-over 77. The 5-foot-2 Stephens bombed her tee shot down the No. 9 fairway, hit her second shot within 10 feet of the stick and settled for a tap-in par. Schulman, whose tee shot landed by a tree, needed 4 shots to make the green.
"It's very stressful. Everyone is watching you," Stephens said. "I was a little nervous too."
Schulman, who won the Central Suburban League North Division title in a 2-hole playoff last week, wiped her eyes after falling to Stephens.
"It was just that everyone was watching," said Schulman, who beat Stephens by 2 shots in a nine-hole match at Vernon Hills Golf Course earlier this season. "I know I still qualified (for sectionals) and Maria played great. She deserved to win, but it would have been nice (to win)."
Led by Susa Carlson's 80, Lake Forest successfully defended its regional championship with a 344. Carmel (365) and Libertyville (369) also qualified for next Monday's sectional at Mt. Prospect Golf Course. Vernon Hills also shot a 369 but was bested by Libertyville on a fifth-score tiebreaker.
Stephens started on the back nine and made the turn with a 40, before firing a 37 on her last nine holes (birdies on Nos. 6 and 4). She overcame what she called an "iffy" driver that led to hitting some second shots from the trees.
"I'm pretty proud of (the 77), considering some of the holes I had," Stephens said. "I didn't have any really bad holes. It was just a lot of bogeys."
Schulman's 77 included 1 birdie.
"Pretty good," Schulman said. "I wish a couple of more putts dropped, but not every round is going to be perfect."
Carmel also counted the scores of Rebecca Curley (89), Maddie Kosobucki (93) and Grace Cappelle (106). Stephens and Kosobucki earned individual berths to sectionals last year.
Three-year varsity golfer Payton DeBruler paced Libertyville with an 80. Despite chipping in on her final hole (No. 18) for a birdie, she just missed shooting in the 70s for the first time. She shot a 1-over 37 on front (2 bogeys, birdie on No. 3).
"I'm pretty happy with it," DeBruler said of her round. "The back nine got me a little bit. ... I just knew I had to keep doing well to have our team go to sectionals."
Lily McAuliffe (92), Emma Fields (98) and Ella Marsden (99) also helped Libertyville get back to sectionals for the second year in a row.
Other golfers advancing were Warren's Sydney Bornhorst (87), Diya Iyer (94) and Mia Bornhorst (96); Mundelein's Kellie Shanahan (88), Maddy Forster (93) and Natalie Altenhoff (93); Vernon Hills' Molly King (91); Lakes' Maya Chavez (94); and Antioch's Emily Roberts (96).
Roberts and Mia Bornhorst secured the final two spots in a ninth-hole playoff with Vernon Hills' Abby Finerty. Roberts bogeyed the hole, while Bornhorst doubled it.
"We were all probably scared (in the playoff)," said Bornhorst, a sophomore and the younger sister of Sydney. "That's probably why we didn't play (the hole) as well as we should have."
Bornhorst hit her tee shot into the trees and eventually made the green with her fourth shot.
"At first, I did not know what I was doing," Bornhorst said. "I was so scared because I did not want to let my team down and I did not want to lose the chance to go to sectionals as an individual. After the second shot, I dialed in and realized I just need to focus and ignore everybody around me."