Whittington looks to capture third state title

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Playing on a soggy, muddy course saturated by a weekend of rain, Karley Whittington spun her wheels a bit in the first round of the MHSAA Class III girls golf state tournament.

On her final hole of the day, however, the Warren Central sophomore gained some traction and some momentum that should give her a good chance to retain her state championship.

Whittington got up and down for par after hitting her second shot into a bunker on the 18th hole Monday. The save from the sand gave her a 72 and a share of the clubhouse lead with D’Iberville’s Hannah Levi heading into the final round today at The Oaks in Pass Christian.

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“I wanted to stay tied with her going into tomorrow. It’s like starting a brand new day,” said Whittington, the two-time defending state champion.

Whittington only made three birdies in her round, but two of them were on the back nine. She made birdie on the par-5 10th hole and the par-4 13th to help her pull even with one of her biggest rivals.

Levi finished second to Whittington at last year’s state tournament at Clear Creek Golf Course in Bovina, and has beaten her in several junior tournaments in the past year.

“This is her course where she gets her lessons,” Whittington said of Levi. “I’m not going into (the second round) scared. I’m confident going into it. My main goal is to just shoot a good score.”

St. Martin led the team standings after shooting 162 and Madison Central was second at 164. Warren Central was in third place, with a team score of 174. Mia Wamsley shot 102 and Sydney Stuart 112 for the Lady Vikes in the first round.

Warren Central coach Matt Williams said it’s not inconceivable for the Lady Vikes to make up the 12-shot difference on St. Martin and win their second team title in three years, but it will take a strong effort on their part and some struggles by the teams ahead of them.

“If we can find a way for (Wamsley or Stuart) to shoot 95 to 98, we could send a scare,” Williams said. “Mia and Sydney hit some good shots today. They have to eliminate the shots that get them into trouble. Also, St. Martin and Madison have to have some holes where they lose some shots where we can gain on them. We are in the dark horse role where they are not thinking about us, so they can play without any stress.”