Whittington finishes 9th at Big ‘I’ tournament

Published 3:36 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Karley Whittington’s rollercoaster ride at the Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship ended on a decidedly down moment.

The former Warren Central star shot a 7-over par 79 on the final day of the four-round tournament Thursday to finish in ninth place with a score of 303. Whittington was only one shot out of the lead after the first round, and shot a 72 in the third, but carded scores of 81 and 79 in the second and fourth rounds to slip down the leaderboard.

Emily Hawkins, from Lexington, North Carolina, won the tournament with a score of 287. She shot a 3-under 69 on Thursday — the only round of the day under par at the Daniel Island Club — to beat Alice Hodge (Larchmont, New York) by one stroke.

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Hawkins made five birdies and erased a four-shot deficit in the final round to win. Lodge carried a four-shot lead into Thursday and made three birdies on the front nine, then fell apart with a stretch of four bogeys in five holes from Nos. 10-14.

Whittington could sympathize with those struggles down the stretch. She made bogey on Nos. 10 and 13 on Thursday, bringing her total for the tournament to nine bogeys and four double bogeys on the back nine.

Unlike the first three days, however, Whittington was unable to balance out those difficult moments with solid play on the front nine. She bogeyed four of the first five holes Thursday, then added two more on Nos. 9 and 10.

Whittington was 12 shots out of the lead entering the final round, but only seven away from breaking into the top five. The rough start ended those hopes and left her alone in ninth place.

Kayla Smith (Burlington, N.C.) finished in eighth place, three shots ahead of Whittington.

Fifty-two of the top junior girls golfers in the country competed in the tournament, which is billed as the largest junior tournament in the country. Another 98 boys played as well.

The boys’ tournament was won by Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah). He shot a 7-under par 281 to beat Carter Pendley (Dalton, Georgia) by three strokes. Mississippians Eli Mitchell (Meridian) and Jake Kight (Louisville) finished tied for 21st and 29th, respectively.