By Steve Williams
Playing in her first-ever district tournament, freshman Malerie Taylor of Christian Academy of Knoxville overcame a quadruple-bogey to take top medalist honors in the Division II Class A District 1 golf tourney Tuesday.
Taylor shot an 84, but her nerves were tested after she scored a 39 on her first nine holes at Three Ridges.
The girls started their play on the course’s back nine (holes 10 through 18).
Looking back on her round, Taylor said “definitely perseverance” was the key to her win, “because there were some holes out here that really got me.”
Malerie lost four strokes to par on hole No. 1 and saw her score increase from three over par to seven over.
“That was real discouraging,” said Taylor, who felt she might have lost the tournament at that point.
Just before the quadruple-bogey, she said Coach (Donnie) Cooper had told her she ‘should be in the No. 1 position.’
Taylor responded like a champion after her worst hole of the day by making three straight pars.
Malerie, now 14 years old, said she has been playing golf since she was “six or seven” and winning her first district tourney was “definitely a boost of confidence.”
Taylor also credited her playing partner, Lilly Kate McKinney, with helping relieve her stress on the course.
McKinney also is a freshman and plays for The King’s Academy.
“I’ve known her since we were nine,” said Malerie. “I’m comfortable playing with her.”
Taylor recalled McKinney’s pep talk too after the quadruple-bogey.
“She said, ‘Hey, you got this. Stay positive.’
“Positivity is definitely one of my main things in golf,” added Taylor. “I can’t stay on negativity.”
Taylor combined with Allie Cooper (95) to give CAK the girls’ team title with a 179 score.
Webb (198) placed second as Palmer Sykes had a 91 and Lauren Turner a 107. Berean Christian (212) took third as Emery Fisher shot 90 and Madelyn Graboski 122.
Lakeway Christian (234) came in fourth and Grace Christian (242) fifth.
The top three teams advance to the Class A East Region tournament plus the top five individuals not on the top three teams.
Individual qualifiers were McKinney of TKA (90), Abigail Kelley of GCA (109), Natalie Long of LCA (111), Lillie Inman of LCA (123) and Chloe Bash of GCA (133).
Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Chattanooga will be the site of the Class A East Region on Oct. 6.