Ashley Veach’s timing couldn’t have been better.
The Greenup County senior closed with four consecutive pars Monday to win medalist honors in the Region 11 Girls Golf Tournament.
Veach’s 83 at Sandy Creek Golf Course also helped Lady Musketeers take the team championship by 11 shots over runner-up Ashland.
“That’s the best I’ve done in a round this season,” Veach said. “I’m happy it happened today.”
She summed up Greenup County’s team victory in one word: Awesome.
“I didn’t really expect that,” Veach said. “I was hoping we could get second.”
GC and Ashland, along with four other individual players, earned spots in next week’s State Tournament at Bowling Green Country Club.
Lou Quillen is in her 10th season directing Greenup County’s program. During that time, the Lady Musketeers have advanced to the state level every year as a team or with individuals.
“I will pat myself on the back for that,” Quillen said. “Over the years, our girls have really put in the time and effort working on their game.”
Veach, who shot 90 at the regional tournament each of the past two years, made good on her goal of winning the title in her last try.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “I’m just excited. I think today I only used my driver twice. A 5-wood was my club of the day. It saved me.”
Veach said she battled nerves the last couple of days, but felt calm heading to the course Monday morning.
After rolling in a birdie putt on her first hole, No. 10, Veach went on to shoot 45 on the back nine.
“I had a double bogey on the second hole and was a little shaky for a while,” she said.
However, Veach settled down to make six pars on the last eight holes, including four in a row at the end. She trailed playing partner Haley Webb of Ashland by one shot going to No. 7.
Webb had bogeys on 7 and 8, then both players parred the final hole to leave Veach with a one-shot margin.
“My very last putt, my heart was racing,” Veach said.
Katie Gillum, the other senior in Greenup County’s lineup, gave the team a boost with a 94 for her lowest round of the season.
Gillum has been a part-time player for the Lady Musketeers since her middle-school days. She’s also a member of Greenup County’s highly successful cheerleading squad, winning national championships in 2010 and ‘11.
“Katie really came through,” Quillen said. “She gets to practice very little with us, but she’s a key part of the team.”
One of Gillum’s main strengths as a golfer is her ability to recover well.
“I’m not sure Katie hits a fairway, but she knows how to get back from that and score,” Quillen said. “She’s played with me seven years. This last year, she has stepped up.”
Gillum was thrilled to do her part in Greenup County’s latest regional title. She wasn’t in the tournament lineup for the school’s 2009 and ‘10 champs.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “I’ve been on the team since seventh grade. My dad pushed me to play golf back in sixth grade when I was against it. I’m glad he did.”
Eighth-grader Madison Crump shot 101, sophomore Megan Mulkey 109 and junior Samantha Garvin 111 for the Lady Musketeers.
“Probably the proudest I am of all these girls is that they stayed mentally tough,” Quillen said. “Last year they finished second (at regionals) when we weren’t expecting it.”
Monday’s team competition figured to be tighter. Two weeks ago, Greenup County, Ashland and Rowan County got together for a nine-hole match at Sandy Creek. Ashland and Rowan tied at 193, with Greenup County just three shots back.
“Those teams were close all season,” Quillen said. “We knew it would come down to who had the better day.”
Webb’s 84 paced Ashland to a 398 total. Rowan County finished third at 410.
“That was our goal, to go (to state) as a team,” Ashland coach Larry Bailey said. “Haley has played so many years. The girls tried to pick it up for her. Jordan Meade, you can’t say enough about her.”
Meade shot 89, good for fourth overall.
“She’s been playing well the last couple of weeks,” Bailey said. “She and Haley have the same work ethic.”
Fairview’s Amber Green carded an 88 to lead the group of four individual qualifiers.
Boyd County, under first-year coach Kelli Garvin, advanced sophomore Tori Sager (94) and seventh-grader McKinzie Walters (95).
“Just the look on their faces is priceless,” Garvin said. “They knew they would have to stay mentally focused and play smart. This is their home course, so they had that going for them.”
Boyd County’s last state qualifier was five years ago, when Garvin did it.
“When I realized Tori and McKinzie were going, it all came flooding back,” Garvin said. “I started to cry. They wanted to go so bad.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.
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