Fred Main/News Mount Vernon’s Maggie Williams and her coach, Anthony Savage, left, watch her tee shot on the first hole at New Albany Links in the Division I District girls golf tournament Tuesday. Williams shot a two-over-par 74 to qualify for next week’s state tournament.

Fred Main/Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon’s Maggie Williams and her coach, Anthony Savage, left, watch her tee shot on the first hole at New Albany Links in the Division I District girls golf tournament Tuesday. Williams shot a two-over-par 74 to qualify for next week’s state tournament. Request this photo

 

NEW ALBANY — Two years ago, Maggie Williams narrowly missed advancing to the state golf tournament.

This year, there was no denying the Mount Vernon senior.

Williams fired a two-over-par 74 at New Albany Links on Tuesday in the Division I District tournament, advancing as the top individual to next week’s state tournament. She will play two rounds at Ohio State University’s Gray Course on Oct. 18-19.

“This has been a goal of hers since I’ve been around,” said Mount Vernon golf coach Anthony Savage. “She’s done everything in her power to give herself this opportunity. As a competitor, that’s all you can ask for.

“A 74 under this situation (district) and these conditions (windy), is a very good round of golf.”

It didn’t look overly promising for the senior early on Tuesday. Williams started on the back nine and bogeyed two of the first three holes. Three more bogeys on holes 7 through 10 left things looking a little bleak and forced Savage to challenge her on the next tee.

It took a great second putt to salvage par on her 12th hole of the day to find the springboard she was looking for. Williams followed that par up with an eagle on the 450-yard par 5 fourth hole, getting things back on track.

“We played that hole as a par 5, but the whole season, one that distance has been a par 4,” Williams said. “I hit my drive in a good position. I had 156 in and I’ve hit that shot a million times. I wanted to get it into a spot where I had a shot at making birdie. I think that propelled me forward.”

“I challenged her on the second tee to hit seven of eight greens and try to play two-under the rest of the way,” Savage said. “From there, she clearly responded, hitting seven of eight and playing it three under. I thought she did a great job staying patient and staying in the moment.”

Williams just missed birdie on the next hole, then parred three straight. In what turned out to be a pretty solid round, her birdie on the final hole may have been her best.

She drove the ball into the fairway bunker, leaving about 115 yards to the green. She blasted out, barely getting it onto the green. From there, she made the 15-foot putt for birdie and end her round at 74.

“That hole always scares me. I’ve never really played it well,” Williams said. “I was just trying to get it on the green and try to have a putt for birdie.”

Despite some early-round struggles with the putter, Williams was able to keep things on track thanks to some solid tee shots, as well as good iron play. She hit 13 greens in regulation.

“I only missed one (tee shot) and never put myself in a bad position,” Williams said. “At the end of the season, I had started to guide my driver instead of just swinging it. I worked on swinging it today.

“I’ve been hitting the ball pretty solid the last two weeks. I started off the season very high and playing really well. In the middle, it kind of slipped away, but I’ve been working really hard on getting back on an upward trend.”

Williams is the first Mount Vernon golfer to make it to state since her brother, Robert, did the same in 2014. She will have one more week to stay on that upward trend as she will be joined at OSU by Grove City’s Lizzi Saur, who shot 78 to qualify as an individual. New Albany won the team title with a 305 score, while Upper Arlington also qualified for state with a 314.

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Fred Main: 740-397-5333 or fmain@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @http://twitter.com/mountvernonnews