4A state GOLF
One innocent mistake caused Catalina Foothills golfer Brittany McKee to feel the worst sadness of her young life.
Two strokes transformed her tears into happiness and relief.
McKee was disqualified from Tuesday's final round of the 4A-I girls state championship for signing an incorrect scorecard, only to find out minutes later that her Falcons won the tournament anyway - by two strokes.
Foothills (640) edged Cienega (642) to win its third state championship in seven years.
The Falcons would have won by 19, but McKee's 73 was dropped. It was replaced with a 90 by No. 5 golfer Shireen Singh.
"I'm obviously disappointed in how big of a mistake I made," McKee said. "That's one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make (as a golfer). For a while, I thought I had lost state for us. But the moment I saw that we actually won state, it was just relief."
Cienega's Kirsti Grau had two incorrect scores written down for McKee after their 18 holes on Dell Urich's par-70 course. McKee changed one of the errors but didn't see the other, then signed the card.
McKee's own card was correct.
As soon as officials noticed the mistake, McKee's 73 was replaced with a DQ on the giant scoreboard, causing a gasp from dozens of bystanders.
That's when Foothills coach Mark Polich picked up a calculator and got to work.
"It just didn't seem like it would be possible that we could throw out a 73 and still win," Polich said. "This time of the day, my math skills aren't very good, and I had to keep adding and adding and adding. It's just unbelievable."
The series of events surrounding Foothills' close win overshadowed individual performances from the Falcons' Laura Jabczenski and Cienega's Sun Park.
Jabczenski followed her first-round 72 with a final-round 70 to win the tournament.
The junior edged Cave Creek Cactus Shadows sophomore Lindsey Weaver, who finished one stroke back at 143.
"I'm just in shock," said Jabczenski, who became the first Foothills girls golfer to win an individual state crown. "It all came down to the last hole. We were still tied - and I knew it."
Jabczenski hit a nice approach on 18 from roughly 200 yards before lipping out a chip shot. She tapped in for par and watched Weaver three-putt for bogey.
After a first-round 76, Park was back on track Tuesday with the low-round of the day, a 1-under 69.
The Yale-bound senior was expected to win the tournament but could not quite recover from Monday's high round. She finished three strokes back at 145.
"I am extremely happy, content, and I am very happy with what happened today," Park said. "Today was the best day ever."
It was also the best day ever for Foothills' Billy Flower.
As a senior playing in his final match, Flower won the individual title and also led the Falcons (589) to their first boys championship. Canyon del Oro (607) was second.
"It's a dream come true to me," Flower said. "Winning it myself and as a team, you can't get any better than that."
The senior was 3 over on the front nine at Randolph's par-72 course, but came back with a 1 under score on the back to shoot a 74 and force a playoff with Tempe McClintock's Trey Kaahanui.
Both golfers parred the first playoff hole, but Flower came through with a birdie on the second. He hit his first shot in the rough to the right of the green but said he had a nice angle to shoot from.
"The sun was right in my face, I couldn't really see where I was hitting the ball," Flower said. "I just waited for the crowd. I knew then" it was a good shot.
The ball landed 3 feet from the cup. He then sank the putt for the victory.
Scottsdale Notre Dame's boys golf team won the state team championship at the 500 Club in Glendale on Tuesday with a two-day score of 612.
Sahuarita, led by a 166 from Bobby Bowman, finished 10th with a score of 684. Santa Rita was 11th with a 736.
On the girls side, Santa Rita's Amanda Kim improved by two strokes Tuesday at the Maryvale Golf Course in Phoenix and finished third after shooting a 14-over-par 158 for the tournament.