GILBERTSVILLE >> Before she reached down to retrieve her ball from the cup on the ninth green, Liddie McCook turned to her three playing partners.
“Okay, I think we can all agree, that one was lucky,” the Downingtown East sophomore said of her long birdie putt.
Luck? No way. Luck eventually runs out.
McCook dominated the day Monday, shooting an even-par 70 to capture the Pioneer Athletic Conference Girls Individual Championship at Gilbertsville Golf Club.
“Just the thought of winning this thing is really cool,” said McCook afterward. “I was hitting the ball pretty solid for the most part. Overall, just about every club in the bag was working for me.”
Everything surely was working for her, but the putter was putting in overtime.
McCook used a stellar 12 putts on the front nine, eventually capping a strong run with a 35-foot putt to move to 2-under when she made the turn at the clubhouse. She hit 10 fairways and 13 greens in regulation on the round, using five one-putts. She never once suffered through a three-putt.
“My putting was lights-out today,” she said. “Especially compared to what I usually do. I was going for the green and sticking it close. As it went on, I started to trust it even more.”
McCook racked up four birdies and 11 pars with a bogey mixed in through the first 16 holes. She ran into trouble during the home stretch, though.
With Hatboro-Horsham senior Cassady Gavaghan breathing down her neck during the final stretch, McCook finished double bogey, bogey to close out the round.
“I slipped up at the end today just like I did last season,” said McCook, who finished a one-stroke runner-up to Perk Valley’s Carly Dorminy in 2015. “That was definitely on the back of my mind.
“I know I took myself away from my game for a little bit. It’s something I know I need to work on.”
McCook was able to fend off Gavaghan, who finished runner-up with a 3-over 73. Phoenixville junior Grace Simenson followed at third with a 77.
Gavaghan had several chances to put the pressure on early during the back nine. After sinking birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, the senior missed three straight birdie chances on the next three holes.
“Those may have been the difference,” she admitted. “I felt like I should have made all three of those. They all just missed, which was kind of disheartening.”
She also finished with a double bogey on No. 18, a hole where she may have had a chance to pull even with McCook atop the leaderboard.
On the round, Gavaghan hit 10 fairways and 13 greens in regulation on her way to 34 putts. She finished with two birdies, three bogeys and 12 pars.
“It seemed like Liddie was hitting everything well,” said Gavaghan, “especially her putting. So to be able to finish that close to her is an accomplishment.
“I’m happy with my score, definitely. There are a few shots I wish I played differently and a few putts I’d really like to have back. But sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.”
Also in the first flight with McCook and Gavaghan, Simenson couldn’t find a way to convert a birdie. She opened the round even through four holes, but finished the front side 5-over.
She finished with five bogeys, a double bogey and 12 pars, rattling off seven consecutive pars to start the back nine before finishing her round with two straight bogeys.
“I didn’t end well on either nine — the front or the back,” said Simenson. “I was hitting my 3-wood really well, but couldn’t really get much else going.”
Survive & Advance
In all, 24 girls qualified for next week’s District One Championship. The first qualifying round will be held back at Gilbertsville on Monday, then conclude at Turtle Creek Golf Course on Tuesday.
Downingtown West and Great Valley will each send four representatives. Grace Hickey posted DTW’s top finish with an 81, followed by Lily Byrne (87), Caitlin McGrinder (90) and Shea Cabaddu (90). Great Valley’s Liv Juliana shot an 83 in the first flight while Alli Brophy (94), Amanda Heins (94) and Megan Noll (96) each had their names called.
Behind McCook, Anisha Sonti (89) and Georgia Miller (95) will represent Downingtown East while Simenson, Allison Bradley (87) and Morgan Frampton (92) survived the cut for Phoenixville.
Methacton, Spring-Ford and Boyertown will each send two while Katie Pupillo will be Perkiomen Valley’s lone representative.
After playing as part of Pope John Paul II’s boys golf team throughout the fall season, junior Courtney Caiola will be the Golden Panthers’ lone representative next week at districts. Caiola tied for eighth on Tuesday with an 89.
“It’s a lot different being out there playing with the girls,” she said, “but overall it was an okay round for me. My drives and my approach shots were making things easy for me. I was hitting them well.”