NEW CASTLE — During a long morning's journey into evening, Anderson's Morgan Nadaline and Pendleton Heights' Emily Tilton qualified for next weekend's IHSAA state golf tournament.
In the New Castle Regional at Westwood Golf Club on Saturday, Nadaline carded a 38-39-77 and Tilton was right behind with a 40-38-78 to each claim one of the coveted top-five spots awarded to the best players not on an advancing team.
The state will be played at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin. The first round will be played Friday morning and the second and final round will be played Saturday. All golfers who qualified will play both days.
The scorecard indicated that Westwood was created in 1917, and some of the competitors doubtless felt their regional round began on that date and ended Saturday.
Bob Windlan, the Anderson coach, reported that from first swing of the club to sinking the final putt, Nadaline's round last 6 hours, 44 minutes. A combination of the decision to play in foursomes, extremely difficult pin placements and the ruling that golfers be allowed to pick up the ball, clean it and place it while on the fairway all led to unbelievably long rounds.
"It was awful," said Nadaline of the length of the 18 holes. "I am not a patient person, and I did not handle it well at all. The pins were mostly as difficult as they could be."
Still, Nadaline, a senior heading for her third state tournament appearance, and Tilton, a junior heading for her second state showing, were able to keep their games together through the marathon experience.
"I started really strong, and then I had a couple of really interesting holes," said Tilton with a wry smile. "The fairways and rough were hard, and the greens were not holding at all. The greens were fast, and they were rolling fine."
Tilton showed some dogged determination in fighting through the adversity.
"I was pleased at the way I fought through it," she said. "At one point, I had six straight pars."
But she knew it was going to take a lower score than the 80 she shot to get out of the regional a year ago.
"Last year, I got my round in before the 30-mile-per-hour winds kicked up," said Tilton. "They (the IHSAA) added three tough teams to this regional this year. I thought it would take a score in the 70s to advance."
Actually, it took an 81 and a win in a playoff to reach the state out of this regional. That eliminated the two Lapel golfers who were in the field. Natalia Campbell had a 42-41-83 to miss the cut by two strokes. She had a triple bogey 7 on No. 9, and that was the hole that kept her from moving on. Emma Hallinger carded a 42-46-88.
Nadaline's round was going well on the back nine, at least for a while. Holes No. 13 and 14 are two of the most difficult on the course. She notched a par on each one.
"I had never gotten a birdie on No. 13, and I had that as a goal," said Nadaline. "But I also had never gotten a par at No. 14 so I was pleased to get that."
Then, on No. 15, she got into trouble.
"I hit my worst drive all day there," said Nadaline. "I came off of it and hit it into the trees. I had to punch out, and then I three-putted."
She knows this is her last chance to take a run at a state championship.
"Last year, I had a good first round, but I didn't back it up with a good second day," she said. "I haven't put two solid days up there yet. I am definitely capable of going there and shooting low."