For Sarah O'Neill, winning the 23rd annual Maryland State Golf Association's junior girls championship was a big honor. But the victory was even more special considering who came in second.
The 14-year-old O'Neill, who attends Stone Ridge School, shot a 5-over-par 78 to earn medalist honors today at Hunt Valley Golf Club. Twenty-four girls competed in the largest field for a MSGA junior girls championship. This is the second year the girls tournament has been held separately from the boys.
Christy Larrimore, 14, of Sparrows Point Country Club, was the runner-up with an 80.
"I'm actually very happy," said O'Neill, who plays at Congressional. "The girl who came in second, we're good friends. It feels good to beat her once in a while."
Jessica Lewis of Columbia Country Club shot an 81 to win the 16- and 17-year-old age division. Stephanie Connelly of Sparrows Point won the 10-13 division with a 90.
O'Neill played particularly well on the front nine of the 5,322-yard course. After a birdie on the first hole, she made her only miscue on the front -- a double bogey on No. 2. However, she recovered nicely and made par on the next seven holes.
Perhaps because of the steamy weather, the back nine proved much tougher for O'Neill. She bogeyed Nos. 10, 11 and 16 and took a double bogey on No. 17, but had a birdie on No. 15 and a nice eight-foot putt to save par on 18.
"I played pretty well," O'Neill said. "I was hitting my irons pretty well. My driving got me in trouble a little bit. On 17, I hit it into the trees. But I made a great par on 18. . . . I was getting a little tired the last few holes. It was very hot."
O'Neill, who has played golf for five years, competed in her third MSGA junior girls tournament. The past two years, she won the 10- to 13-year-old age division. As a junior girls state champion, O'Neill earns an invitation to one of the premier girls junior golf tournaments in the country, the Betsy Rawls Girls National Championship in Wilmington, Del., in July of 2000.
O'Neill and Larrimore also played against each other Monday in the qualifier for the U.S. Girls Junior Open, which will be held at Greenspring Valley Hunt Club Aug. 2-7. Both qualified, with O'Neill shooting an 82 and Larrimore an 84.
"It's been a good week," O'Neill said.
Lewis, who will turn 18 in two weeks, won this tournament in 1997. She is a recent graduate of St. Andrew's in Potomac and plans to attend James Madison University this fall on a golf scholarship.
She said her unfamiliarity with the course cost her a shot at the overall championship.
"I had never seen this course before," Lewis said. "The greens were so slow. I was leaving everything short. I had five three-putts. That's five strokes right there."
MARYLAND JUNIOR BOYS: At Walden Golf Club, Jason Goslee shot a 73 with three birdies to win the 75th MSGA junior boys championship. Goslee, who shot 35-38, plays out of Elk Golf Club in Salisbury and will begin his senior year at Salisbury's J.M. Bennett High in the fall. Steve Colnitis, from Hillendale Golf Club in suburban Baltimore, shot a 76 for runner-up honors. Jason Shin of Congressional shot a 77.
Goslee's younger brother, Jared, shot a back-nine 36 for medalist honors in the under-13 division with a 78, while Steven Krug of Hillendale was the 14-15 medalist with a 78.