Pinewood girls win state golf championship
The Pinewood Lady Panthers golf team wrapped up its season Monday by clinching its fourth consecutive SCISA State Championship.
The Panthers bested runner-up Oakbrook Prep of Spartanburg by 23 shots, winning 355 to 378. The tournament was played at Pine Forest Country Club.
The Lady Panthers were led by tournament medalist Reona Hirai, who will be playing for Furman next year. Hirai shot a six-under 66 to set a SCISA tournament record.
Hirai had a flawless round with six birdies, 12 pars and no bogeys.
“That was just a spectacular performance by Reona, although I come to almost expect that with Reona as she is such a top quality player,” Pinewood coach Greg Baechtle said. “What makes this even more amazing is that she was in Japan for the past week watching her brother play and returned home late Sunday evening so she hasn’t had a chance to even pick up a club for over a week. It was just a great way for her to wrap up her girls’ golf career at Pinewood.”
Sophomore Michaela McAuley backed up Hirai with an 89.
“Michaela struggled a little on the front nine but I talked to her, at the turn, about hanging in there and how things could change quickly,” Baechtle said. “She chipped in for a par on 12 and that seemed to get her going and she was able to improve by five shots on the back nine.” McAuley earned All-state honors for the first time in her career.
Senior Olivia Coyle contributed a 93 to the Panthers effort.
“Olivia started slowly, but that is not unusual for her,” Baechtle said. “Like Michaela she too was able shave a few shots off on the back nine to help the team.”
Seniors Kerstin Fridh and Caroline Chester rounded out the team as both shot 107.
“Kerstin and Caroline both had a tough day but I give them both a lot of credit, Baechtle said. “They hung in there and kept battling right to the very last shot.”
The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 18-1. The team will have a whole new look next year as Hirai, Coyle, Fridh and Chester are all seniors.
“This has been a great run with these girls,” Baechtle said. “I’ve really enjoyed having them for the past four years. They have come a long way from our very first practice and tournament. They have all improved so much these past few years. Our very first tournament we finished dead last and since then we have won four SCISA state championships, beaten many of the public schools that finished ahead of us in that first tournament, put together a 59-match unbeaten streak and I think we have also had a lot fun doing that. So, while I will miss these girls I look forward to a new group next year and hopefully we can continue some of the success that these ladies have had.”