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Victoria Allred bests strong field at Pine Needles

 

By STEVE WILLIAMS

Victoria Allred has come of age.

Though still only a high school freshman, she claimed her first title in a major event’s oldest age group when she won the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Golf Tour’s Pine Needles Classic on Jan. 30.

Not only did she defeat some of the best players from her home state of North Carolina, she knocked off the reigning high school state champ from Maryland in a playoff. The field of 45 also included the state champ of Virginia.

“I sure did not hit it perfect, but I found a way to will myself into a win,” Allred said after the round. “It would have been easy for me to get frustrated with my ball striking, but I kept focusing on hitting great chips and knocking the ball in the hole on the greens. It was an amazing experience to be able to pull off this first victory at Mrs. Peggy Kirk Bell’s home, and I loved that she was watching us in the playoff.”

It was the first event of the year on the 2011 PKB Girls Golf Tour and Allred used the win to climb to fifth place in the Carolinas Golf Association’s state girls rankings. She’s the only freshman in a top 20 that includes eight seniors, five juniors and six sophomores.

Allred has challenged for several titles in the past year but this was her first win. In 2010, she had seven top-10s in tournaments. She started out hot in several tournaments including the first round lead in the Dogwood and a first round tie for second in the Twin States Championship. She finished the tournament tied for third at the Dogwood State Tournament (where she won the 13-15 age group by four shots), tied for seventh in Twin State Junior and led Reagan High School to a third place showing in the 4-A State Tournament.

She also showed her ability to compete against some of the best in the Mid-Atlantic when she tied for seventeenth in the Joe Cheves Junior last fall and finished 12th at the Carolinas Georgia Junior Championship.

Competing against multi-state competition was true again at the Pine Needles Classic as she shot 72-77 in a head-to-head showdown with Elyse Smidinger, the Maryland state champ. Their 149 totals were three shots better than four players who tied for third, including Virginia state champ Lyberty Anderson and East Carolina signee Katie Kirk, N.C.’s second ranked player and the order-of-merit leader on the PKB Tour.

Both Allred and Smidinger could have won the tournament in regulation with a par at the difficult 18th. Smidinger, who had a one-shot lead going into the hole, suffered a double bogey while Allred bogeyed.

But that same hole turned out to be where the championship was decided about an hour later as Allred made a great chip shot within a foot and Smidinger failed to convert her par putt from eight feet after finding the greenside bunker with her approach.

The final round had been a back-and-forth match. Smidinger held a two-shot lead after three holes but Allred played the next eight holes 1-under to get even. The lead changed hands a couple of times on the back nine before ending in the deadlock.

The playoff began on the par-5 first hole and Allred stayed alive by sinking a clutch 6-footer. She had to make another 6-footer to save par at the par-4 second.

Play then turned to the 18th and Allred finally decided it with a great chip shot.

“That green has a crown so I hit a pitch shot … an 8-o’clock pitch shot from about 25 feet away so I kind of pitched it up and let it run.”

Womble claims Tilghman championship

 

Davis Womble’s victory in the 21st Charles Tilghman Junior Championship was one of his best despite the fact that it was cut in half by nasty weather in early December in Myrtle Beach.

Womble fired a 69 with a cold rain falling during much of the round. The weather got worse and the second round was canceled, leaving Womble with a two-shot win over Cody Proveaux of Leesville, S.C. The junior at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point was actually 5-under through 15 holes before a double bogey at the 16th allowed Proveaux and the several others in the 96-player field to stay on the same page.

Proveaux, the Carolinas Golf Association’s Boys Junior Player of the Year, had won the Polo Junior Classic a couple of weeks before the Charles Tilghman.

Womble, meanwhile, was the 2010 Tarheel Youth Golf Association’s N.C. Junior Player of the Year. He won the Carolinas Junior Championship last summer and is listed No. 1 in the N.C. boys rankings.

Both Womble and Proveaux are high school juniors who figure to cross paths many times. Womble has verbally committed to Wake Forest and Proveaux has announced he’ll play at Clemson.

Womble followed up his Tilghman title with a fifth-place finish in the Carolinas-Georgia Junior in mid-January, shooting 74-71. He finished five shots off the pace of Taylor Zoller of North Charleston and two back of fourth-place finishing Cody Proveaux.

JUNIOR NOTES

 

RALEIGH • Jan. 29-30 – Taylor Coalson of Dobson teamed with Carter Jenkins of Raleigh for a dominating performance in the Tarheel Golf Foundation Tour’s team championship at Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh.

Coalson, a high school junior, and Jenkins, a sophomore, opened a four-shot lead by firing a bestball 65 in the first round. The format changed to the more difficult alternate shot on day two but the Coalson-Jenkins duo didn’t flinch, instead adding to their lead with a 4-under-par 68. They ended with a seven-shot margin.

CHARLOTTE • Feb. 12-13 – Andrew Kennedy of Winston-Salem posted rounds of 77 and 75 and captured the boys 13-14 title in the Ballantyne Junior Open at the Golf Club at Ballantyne.

Kennedy, three shots back after the first round, finished with a two-shot margin.

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