North Raleigh: Sports

Heritage’s Bhatia edges Garner’s Kayla Ward for the medalist honors in a 4A East girls golf regional playoff

The Holly Springs’ girls’ golf team added another “first in school history” to its landmark season when the Golden Hawks won the NCHSAA 4A East Regional Monday at Chapel Hill Country Club.

Holly Springs already considered its season a success when it dethroned perennial power Green Hope to claim the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A for its first conference crown. But considering the strength of the conference, no one should have been surprised by Holly Springs’ regional title.

“The competition in our league is so strong compared to the rest of the state,” said senior Courtney Normand, the Golden Hawks’ best finisher with a 5-over 78. “If we can compete with Green Hope, we can compete with the rest of the state. We’re so excited to win our first regional title.”

The individual regional title came down to a four-hole playoff as Heritage senior Rhea Bhatia and Garner freshman Kayla Ward both shot 76. Bhatia holed a 45-foot birdie putt that was up a ridge and broke left on No. 4 for the victory.

“I have had three other playoffs that all went four or five holes, but this was the first time I won,” Bhatia said of her junior golf career. “I just tried to keep a positive attitude. I really wanted to win my senior year.”

Bhatia, who placed third last year, overcame a triple-bogey on her second hole (No. 11) when she hit a spectator out of bounds. She recovered with 16 pars and one birdie.

Holly Springs won the team competition by a comfortable margin of nine strokes with 256 total. Senior Abby Snidemiller and sophomore Natalie Peterson added 89s. The other seniors in the four-year quest to beat Green Hope who didn’t figure in Monday’s scoring were Jordan Marshall and Audrey Jandorek.

“My seniors were determined,” said Holly Springs coach Tamara Cole. “They’ve worked hard for four years and they’ve been helped by the sophomores.”

There was a three-way tie for second place at 265 involving two Southwest Wake Athletic 4A teams – Green Hopes and Fuquay-Varina – and Cap Eight 4A champion Wakefield.

But only three teams advance to the state tournament, so the ties had to be broken by matching scorecards on handicap holes. Green Hope won the first tiebreaker on the No. 1 handicap for second place and Fuquay-Varina claimed third with the No. 2 handicap tiebreaker.

Green Hope’s three girls scoring were Meghan Symonds, Reilly Thomas and Amanda Yannoni. Fuquay-Varina’s three girls were Catherine Ashworth, Brittany Greene and Anna Bennett.

Individually, Athens Drive freshman Jennifer Chang was third with a 77. Only six girls broke 80 in tough conditions with out of bounds on the left and right, thick rough and fast greens. Symonds and Ashworth both shot 79.

The top 12 players earned all-regional honors.

The 4A state championships, a two-day and 36-hole event, will take place Oct. 27-28 at Pinehurst No. 1.