MAYSVILLE Rowan County’s Athena Singh did not need any luck to complete the No. 13 hole on Tuesday afternoon.
It was her final hole after the shotgun start at the girls Region 12 Tournament. The freshman, who stayed as stoic and unfazed as she had on the previous 17 holes, sank a birdie on the closing green to seal her first region title at Laurel Oaks Golf Club.
Rowan County coach Tyler Maynard said he was impressed with how the young golfer handled adversity during the pressure-packed round.
“She would hit a bad shot, maybe behind a tree, and not let it worry her very much,” Maynard said. “She knows she can make that shot and get it on the green and knock down the putts. She had a couple of double bogeys today from not really knowing the course. She was still able to shoot a 68. She has nerves of steel.”
Singh added more hardware to her trophy case. She won the Bluegrass Junior at Bellefonte County Club over the summer. It was only her fourth high school event, according to Maynard, but she seemed to settle in quickly during her first competitive round at the course.
“There were a few holes that were shorter,” Singh said, “so I was able to get pretty close to the green. I made a few long putts for birdie.
“I am happy that I won, but I still feel like I could have done better,” she added.
Singh didn’t know she had a one-stroke lead when she stepped into the tee box on No. 13. Maynard did not keep her informed of the situation so the outside noise would stay quiet and not offer any distractions.
Singh said she prefers it that way.
“I actually thought I was even with the other girls,” Singh said. “Sometimes I feel that if I know the score, I can let it affect me and affect my mind.”
Singh has left an impression on her teammates in her first year at Rowan County. Her short game and her calm around the greens stand out.
“Any time she gets on the green, even when she might not be within 8 feet where she can knock it down,” Maynard said, “she will knock it close. It amazes me that she can lag it up there so well.”
Singh advances to the first round of the state tournament at Winchester Country Club on Tuesday.
After the KHSAA changed the State qualifying guidelines early this year, the top two teams in the region standings will move on to the next round, along with the top 10 individual finishers on the non-qualifying teams.
Boyd County tallied a team score to 365 to finish second behind Mason County and earn its spot in a field that will include teams from Regions 9-12. Coach Missy Kennedy envisioned a solid team effort before they arrived in Maysville.
“I told the team that we could be a dark horse,” Kennedy said. “We have been playing with these teams all season. I’ve been watching the team scores and we’ve been right there with them. Our fourth player, Anna Tague, is a newer golfer and she has worked her tail off this year. She stepped it up today big-time.
“I had a feeling we would be in the hunt today,” Kennedy continued. “Our girls played really well today. We came out here a month ago and did a practice round. They liked the course.”
Morgan Kennedy finished second with a 2-under 70. The sophomore said the team had plenty of motivation in the postseason after Greenup County took the team title last year.
“We worked really hard,” Morgan Kennedy said. “Over the winter months, all of us went to some type of indoor facility and hit golf balls. Kristen (Ramey) and I were in the gym all winter. By the time the spring hit, we were hitting the golf course already.”
Missy Kennedy said her daughter, and No. 1 golfer, constantly promotes team unity and wants to be supportive to all her teammates.
“Morgan is one of my leaders and she is very positive,” Missy Kennedy said. “Morgan loves playing with all the girls. … We have some girls that aren’t here today, and they are new golfers. I hope they look to her as an inspiration. They get along really well.”
Kennedy and Singh were in the same group on Tuesday. Their games are similar, and both had multiple opportunities for short approaches to the green with their length off the tee.
“I came over twice during the summer and once as a team,” Morgan Kennedy said. “I took notes and was able to figure the course out. The course plays short, so I could drive some greens and had short clubs into the greens. I had a lot of birdies.
“She is an extremely good player,” she added about Singh. “If she has one bad hole, she will come back and birdie the next.”
Singh echoed the same statements about her playing partner.
“I’ve played with her before,” Singh said of Kennedy. “She’s fun to play with on the golf course. I like to have the competition. She helped me through some shots.”
Mason County won its first region title since 2012. Coach Jason Butler saw the potential in his team after last year’s region tournament. Each player dramatically improved their scores. The Royals shot 410 last season and cut that to 346 on their home course to take top honors.
Senior Macey Littleton led the team with a 74.
“I can’t say enough about my kids,” Butler said. “The commitment and dedication they made after the completion of last year’s region was amazing. We knew we had everybody back. I think the chemistry of our team and the bonding contributed to the matches we played. … All the credit goes to my kids. They trusted the process and trusted each other.”
East Carter’s Emily Ledford (76), Greenup County’s Cambria Burke (77) and Rachel Bush (88), Fleming County’s Sadie Price (83) and Sophia Sims (83), Ashland’s Laney Sorrell (84), Rowan County’s Cadence Caskey (87), West Carter’s Kinzie Kilgore (87) and Montgomery County’s Peyton Patrick (88) all qualify for the state first round next week.
2022 Girls Region 12 Tournament
Laurel Oaks Golf Course, par 72
(Top four individuals count towards team score; top two teams qualify for state first round)
*state first round qualifiers (non-qualifying team)
** state first round team qualifiers
**1. Mason County (346) — Macey Littleton 74, Maura Hartman 93, Morgan Parker 88, Bentley Shepard 91, Sydney Ullery 94.
**2. Boyd County (365) — Morgan Kennedy 70, Kristen Ramey 80, Jossy Pack 103, Anna Tague 112.
3. Rowan County (384) — Athena Singh 68*, Cadence Caskey 87*, Alana Kidd 109, Calie Baber 120, Kyndra Howard 123.
4. Montgomery County (396) — Peyton Patrick 88*, Kylie Brown 91, Jordyn Smith 116, Macy Whaley 102, Delaney Wills 115.
5. Ashland (413) — Laney Sorrell 84*, Tori Brown 95, Sophia Evans 118, Scarlet Adkins 116, Grier Campbell 128.
6. Lewis County (416) — Mikayla Kielman 101, Larra Kennedy 94, Maddie Johnson 102, Peyton Riggs 119, Laura Horsley 122.
7. Fleming County (423) — Sadie Price 83*, Sophia Sims 83*, Hynli McKinney 140, Presley Dowdy 140, Hanley High 117.
8. St. Patrick (468) — Allie Cascio 107, Alex Arn 109, Makenzie Markley 140, Alyssa Selp 129, Eva Gibbs 123.
East Carter — Emily Ledford 76*.
Greenup County — Cambria Burke 77*, Rachel Bush 88*, Emily Maynard 101, Emma Kay Ruark 107, Taylor Gammon 134.
Lawrence County — Kailey Prince 104.
Morgan County—Carolina Johnson 108.
Raceland — Makena Francis 133, Amelia Clarke 128, Lexi Boggs 125.
Russell — Blakely Monte 108, Kendall Queen 123.
West Carter — Kinzie Kilgore 87*, Bristol Boggs 116.