Ooltewah senior Samantha Griffith didn't see the chip shot on the 18th hole of Willowbrook Golf Club that sank her goal of winning the Class AAA State Championship by one single stroke.
Griffith, who started the final round about 30 minutes before first-round leader Aubree Jones of Brighton, signed her scorecard for a tournament-total of 5-over 149 on Wednesday. Then she hustled out to watch Ooltewah teammate Danny Gleeson finish his rounds.
"I was watching some other friends," Griffith said by phone. "Then I heard Aubree won, and I was happy for her.
"Finishing second at State is still cool."
Griffith shot an even-par 72 on Wednesday after firing a 5-over 77 on the first day. Jones, the champion, shot a 4-over 76 on Wednesday and needed the chip-in to win.
"I'd rather not seen it because I know how hard Sam has worked to get to the point where she could win," Ooltewah coach Mike McCullough said over the phone. "Aubree could have made a bogey as easily as she made a birdie. It was brutal to watch."
In a game where fewer is better, Jones hit her ball 148 times over two days. Griffith struck her ball 149 times.
"My putting wasn't as good, and I could have done better," Griffith said. "I can't believe that I won't be back next year."
Griffith is the first golfer from Ooltewah to finish runner-up or better in a state golf championship according to TSSAA on-line records. The TSSAA boys championship records date back to 1938 and the on-line records for girls championships date back to 1975.
"Sam has been a good golfer," McCullough said. "She almost got it. She almost won."
Griffith carried the torch for the five Chattanooga area golfers playing as individuals. Cleveland junior Heidi Barringer shot a 180 including an 11-over 183 on Wednesday.
Gleeson shot a 158 and finished 16 strokes behind Hendersonville senior Noah Trenkler who won the individual championship in playoff over Zach Haynes of Smyrna. Walker Valley junior Kyle Limburg finished at 173. East Hamilton sophomore Logan Price had to be disqualified after signing for 79 when he actually shot an 80. East Hamilton coach Jeff Stetzler said he chalked up the mistake to inexperience and that Price would have finished in the middle of the field.
Griffith finished one shot -- a perfect chip shot by Jones-- from being a state champion.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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