Stephanie Connelly wanted to shoot the lowest round ever in the Maryland state girls' championships. The three-time All-Met who is headed to Ohio State on a golf scholarship had to settle for setting a two-day girls' tournament record and her third state individual title.
Connelly, a senior at Northeast, shot an even-par 72 in yesterday's second round to finish even for the tournament, good for a comfortable three-stroke victory at the University of Maryland Golf Course.
Later yesterday, Connelly revealed that she would leave Northeast at the end of the semester to finish high school at David Leadbetter Golf Academy, part of the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.
"It's going to help me take the next step," said Connelly, who won state titles as a freshman and sophomore. "It's like your own private place with everything there that you could ever need to get better."
While Connelly's victory was never in doubt, Walter Johnson senior Dennis Kwon suffered a disappointing defeat. Kwon had shot a first-round 69 and started yesterday with a blistering 3-under 32 on the front nine to make the turn at 5 under with a six-stroke lead. But Kwon faltered and Wilbert Lynn III of Baltimore City College made a stunning comeback.
Lynn, whose school does not field a golf team, birdied the final four holes, including a 12-footer on No. 18, to finish 2-under par, one stroke ahead of Kwon, who made triple bogey on No. 10 after putting his approach in the water and double bogey on No. 14 after four-putting.
"There were a lot of different areas I could have made up one shot or two, I can't just blame it on 10," Kwon said. "I'm happy also. I finished under par for two rounds and showed that I can put up good numbers. If anything, it's a boost to my confidence and a lesson learned."
According to Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, Lynn is the first black player to win a Maryland individual golf title.
Lynn's comeback was not the only one yesterday. After trailing Northern by 11 strokes after the first round, Churchill put together a round 24 strokes better than its first round to win a third consecutive Maryland 4A/3A team title. Matt Benz shot a 1-under 70 for the Bulldogs, with Billy Peel and Casey Finger shooting 73 and All-Met Ryan Wielgus shooting 75 for a two-day team total of 608, eight strokes ahead of Northern.
"It feels wonderful to see them come back and play the way they normally play," Churchill Coach Arnold Tarzy said.
Churchill came within three strokes of the two-day tournament team record, leaving Connelly as yesterday's only record breaker. Despite a double bogey on No. 1, she never was threatened. She was solid throughout the round, hitting 15 greens in regulation to finish with a score of 144 that easily bettered the two-day tournament record of 148 she had set as a freshman.
"It's easier [playing with a lead] because you have so many strokes and if you do screw up one or two holes, you do have those strokes," Connelly said. "But it's harder because you lose your concentration, 'Oh, I've got a lead, I don't have to do anything special the rest of the way.' But you still have to keep grinding it out."
Staff writer Eli Saslow contributed to this report.