Canon-McMillan's Waller, Central Valley's Fouse win WPIAL girls golf titles
With preferably a green Sharpie in hand, Central Valley senior Macky Fouse marks her golf ball with four three-leaf clovers as a respectful nod to her grandfather, who was born in Ireland.
She didn't need any luck to capture the first WPIAL individual championship in her school's history.
She did need apathy, though, because she had to hold off a pair of teammates who set the early tone on the leaderboard.
Fouse carded a 2-over-par 75 on Monday to end up two shots better than Central Valley senior Marissa Sudar and sophomore Maddy McDaniel and take the Class AA title at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell.
Fouse, a Seton Hall recruit, finished second last season and longed to return to the WPIAL's big stage.
But she didn't get ahead of herself on the course. She used a conservative, play-it-safe approach to work her way around the hilly, tree-lined layout.
“I was really focused coming into this season and really wanted to win this, especially in my senior year,” said Fouse, whose given first name is Mackenzie.
“I made a birdie on my first hole and that really got me going.”
There also was a first-time winner in Class AAA as Canon-McMillan junior Lauren Waller matched Fouse's 75 to finish five clear of Peters Township freshman Mia Kness (80).
North Allegheny sophomores Megan Leto and Marissa Balish of Hampton tied for third at 81.
Waller is Canon-McMillan's first golf champion and was coming off a runner-up finish from last year. On Sept. 16, she verbally committed to play at Penn State.
“Going into this round I knew I had a chance to win if I played well,” said Waller, who plays for the Big Macs' boys team.
“I had some trouble with my driver and didn't hit too many fairways. It's a challenging course.”
Waller was 2-under after three holes but double-bogeyed holes 8 and 9.
“I had to kind of boost myself up after that,” said Waller, who made four birdies.
Fouse, who finished with three birdies, played in the final group with Freeport sophomore Audrey Clawson, one of the top contenders at the start and arguably the story of the tournament.
Clawson played with a fractured finger she injured on Sunday evening, but rallied to shoot 83 and make the top eight to advance to the next round.
Clawson, a right-handed player, injured the ring finger on her left hand while attempting to hit a beach ball back to a friend. As she attempted to bump the ball into the air, she missed and hit her opposite hand, pushing the finger downward.
“I can't believe I did that to myself,” she said.
Playing with a splint that stuck out through her ripped glove, Clawson made a 10 on her starting hole, the par-4 10th.
Frustrated and unable to fully feel the club in her hands, she proceeded to rip off the splint and play the remaining 17 holes in 5-over, including two birdies. She shot 45-38.
Clawson, who spent nearly four hours at Children's Hospital Sunday night and will visit an orthopedic surgeon this week, said she had no intentions of withdrawing from the tournament.
“I wasn't going to let something stupid like that keep me out,” said Clawson, the top scorer on Freeport's boys team.
“After (the first hole) I just said to myself I know I can get through this. I love the (front) nine here and couldn't wait to play those holes.”
Said Fouse: “I have no idea how she got it back after that first hole. It was something to watch.”
The top seven finishers in Class AAA and the top eight in Class AA advance to the PIAA West Regional tournament Oct. 16 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville.
Class AA defending champion Gillian Alexander from Jefferson-Morgan finished in fifth with an 82.
Greensburg Central Catholic freshman Olivia Zambruno shot 83 to tie for sixth.
Upper St. Clair's Melissa Kearney was the only senior to advance in Class AAA after finishing fifth. Anna Wears, the granddaughter of Arnold Palmer, shot 86 to finish two shots out of a playoff for the seventh spot in Class AAA.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.