As Delaney Shah reflected on her round following her first-place finish in Monday’s Montgomery County District golf tournament, she kept coming back to one word: trust.
For as talented as the Wootton sophomore already is, Shah knew it would all be for naught had she not found the confidence to travail a Poolesville Golf Course with fairways still soggy and bunkers still flooded from last week’s heavy rain.
When Shah bogeyed the first hole, she “kept her head up and trusted” that she could bounce back. When she was jockeying for the lead with Churchill’s Luke Schaap on No. 17, she “trusted and drained” a short putt to save par. And when Shah needed to put a little more power behind a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole’s slow-rolling green, she again “trusted and drained” –and then exhaled — as she secured a 3-under par 68 to win the co-ed district crown.
“The course played longer than it usually does because of the rain,” Shah said. “Usually if you hit your driver well, it gets a lot of roll, but you couldn’t do that [Monday] because the ball would just hit and stick in the wet green. That meant I could attack the pins more, so while it was a little easier, it was also harder.”
Shah’s impressive showing, along with an even-par 71 from Justin Feldman, also helped Wootton win the team title with a score of 301. The Patriots finished five strokes ahead of Walter Johnson and were one of seven teams to shoot under the 332 score required to qualify for the Maryland state tournament at the University of Maryland on Oct. 28-29. There, Wootton will look to defend its 4A/3A state crown while Shah looks to improve upon last year’s runner-up finish in the individual girls’ standings.
“It’s been an up-and-down regular season for us, but we won our last match of the year, so we seem to be peaking at the right time,” Patriots Coach Paul Williams said. “Delaney is playing lights out lately, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Monday marked Shah’s second consecutive round shooting 68. The sophomore did so last week at Laytonsville to win the girls’ district title and aims to continue her hot streak Tuesday and Wednesday at the Maryland Women’s Open Championship, an amateur event that she hopes will serve as a tune-up for state.
“I’ve been feeling really good lately and confident in my game,” Shah conceded. “I’m hoping the momentum will carry over to state and our team can have more success there.”
The five other teams that qualified for state were Churchill (309), Quince Orchard (310), Whitman (312), Sherwood (328) and Poolesville (331). On the individual side, 11 golfers made the cut: Northwest’s E.J. Dillon (75), Richard Montgomery’s Phil Colevas (76), Damascus’ Keith Berkheimer (77), Watkins Mill’s Marvin Huelle (79), Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Cooper Moore (79), Clarksburg’s Nick Infanti (79), Walter Johnson’s Jordan Bobb (80), Blair’s Victor Adamson (80), Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s David Platt (80), Northwest’s Zach Berkinshaw (80), Quince Orchard’s Tyler Dunmyer (82) and Wootton’s Graysen Bright (85).