In an individual golf tournament, each player acts as his or her own team.
Without others to rely on, the player is left to find any and every advantage possible. That can manifest itself in actions such as upgrading equipment and taking lessons.
One of the real advantages to the sport is often referred to as "local knowledge."
With Tuesday’s PIAA individual state golf championships being held at York’s Heritage Hills Golf Resort, Central York junior Julianne Lee carried that edge in her bag.
Lee considers Heritage her "home course," one where she spent many a summer day working on her game. At the same time, she was paying close attention to the intricacies of the layout she knew would host the state tournament.
That experience paid off Tuesday, when Lee fired a 74, one stroke better than her opening-round 75. Her two-day total of 149 earned her a third-place finish and a bronze medal.
“It gave me a little more knowledge of what the course is like,” Lee said of her summer rounds. “So it gave me a pretty big advantage. All of us (in her foursome on Tuesday) are really good golfers, but I just try to focus on myself, and I didn’t want that to get in the way of my focus.”
Still, despite as sharp as Lee’s game was, she was unable to cut into the three-shot lead that eventual winner Mia Kness of Peters Township started with. Kness remained steady and held off Lee to card a 72 for a 144 total and the gold medal.
On a day that was every bit characteristic of Pennsylvania in the fall, cloud cover came and went as a robust wind reached gusts beyond 25 mph. Scoring chances were hard to come by.
Lee, the girls’ York-Adams and District 3 Class 3-A champion, found her first birdie of the day on the par-3 fifth hole. Her tee shot to hole, well below the tee boxes, smacked into the ridge of the green’s top tier before trickling down the slope to within a few feet.
On the often-treacherous ninth hole at Heritage, Lee stayed to the left while many opponents opted to risk the cross wind and ponds to the right. In fact, Kness found the water twice on the hole for a triple bogey, but Lee could only gain two shots back with a bogey of her own. That had the lead right back where it began the day as the group made the turn.
Lee missed some opportunities to close the gap on the back side, leaving a birdie putt on 13 just shy of the hole before an attempt at an up-and-down on 14 briefly dipped in before riding the rim and popping back out in heart-breaking fashion.
Both those chances left Lee at three back and she was unable to gain ground from there.
“It was pretty good, I think I could have made a couple more putts, but it was pretty solid overall,” Lee said of her round before assessing her year. “I improved a lot this year, so I’m really glad.”
Bacha makes solid debut: That same local knowledge helped keep Central York freshman Carson Bacha calm during his first PIAA experience.
That comfort produced a 73 Tuesday. It also helped Bacha finish with a two-day total of 151, good enough for a fifth-place medal. Nazareth Area senior Kevin Scherr won the 3-A crown with a score of 144.
“The stretch from hole four to hole eight, I think I played in 2 or 3 under," he said. "Those holes, I’ve just been confident on all week and I’m familiar with them. We had a big advantage, I played in a summer league here and got used to the course and it really helped me a lot.”
After a par, par start to that stretch, Bacha turned it on and birdied two of the next three, which had him 2 under for the day at that point. A bogey on nine saw Bacha make the turn at 1 under. Bogeys on four of his last six holes, however, kept Bacha from possibly inching further up the leader board in his debut.
With the state team tournament Wednesday, Bacha admits having a little less pressure now and is free to enjoy the team experience with the confidence earned from his individual effort.
“It was really good, all my buddies have already been on the team and experienced this, so to be a part of this my freshman year is really cool,” Bacha said. “I knew I could have done well, I just had to stick to my game plan and play as well as I could. Hopefully I can get a win in my next three years.”
Sebring struggles: For Dallastown’s Blake Sebring, the two rounds of the PIAA tournament couldn’t have been more different.
Sebring followed his opening-round 74, a mark that had him five strokes off the lead, with an 89 in the blustery chill.
“Overall, pretty sub-par,” was how Sebring summed up his senior season and Tuesday’s round. “(Monday) was probably my best round of the year, not score wise, just in terms of how I played. And (Tuesday) was probably the low point of the year. But it's golf. It beats you up and you just got to get back up.”
However, Sebring’s day Tuesday wasn’t without its highlights.
Sebring started by sticking his approach shot on the first hole to within five feet of the pin and converting the birdie. However, he then let it get away, carding five bogeys and a double over the next eight holes for a front-side 42.
Things didn’t get any better on the back, opening with back-to-back double bogeys. But a fantastic tee shot on the par-3 12th landed to within three feet of the cup and the birdie that followed at least temporarily quelled the bad stretch.
Parrini finishes 11th: Central York’s Joe Parrini, also a York-Adams and District 3 champ, must put Tuesday’s round of 78 behind him quickly. The Panthers are slated to participate Wednesday in the PIAA Class 3-A team tournament, also at Heritage Hills.
Parrini’s two-day individual total of 155 placed him in 11th place, just outside of a top-10 medal finish.
His day got off to a rough start, finding a fairway bunker off the first tee. The subsequent bogey kicked off a front-side 40. Parrini was able to rally on the back, playing the first six holes at even par before going 3 over on the last three holes.
“It’s going to be challenging again (Wednesday), same conditions. And everyone just has to grind it out and the best team will win,” Parrini said.
Other area finishes: York Catholic’s Andrew Forjan improved on his first-round 85, with an 80 Tuesday. He finished 21st in 2-A.
Quaker Valley’s Chris Tanabe won the 2-A title with a 146, which included his 1-under 70 Tuesday, the only player in the entire field to break par on the day.
Other York-Adams 3-A finishers include Dallastown’s Even Greenplate, 29th with a 163, and Spring Grove’s Luke Hoffnagle, 35th with a 168.
Greensburg's Olivia Zambruno was the girls' 2-A winner with a 157.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.