Junior Golf: Girls Challenge titles to O’Connor, Bullington
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media June 19, 2012 11:04PM
SouthtownStar Challenge Girls 13 to 15 Division winner Erin Bullington, of Frankfort, poses with the Virginia Van Wie Trophy after scoring 112 to win the bracket Tuesday at Glenwoodie Golf Course. | Tim Cronin~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 21, 2012 6:17AM
With no previous experience at the SouthtownStar Challenge Junior Golf Championship and no practice rounds under her belt, Joliet’s Claire O’Connor was not sure what to expect of her round Tuesday.
Having played well through the late spring, O’Connor just wanted to continue her consistent play.
The Joliet Catholic senior-to-be was consistent throughout, her 91 good for a 6-stroke win in the Girls 16 to 18 Division win and the Carol McCue trophy at Glenwoodie Golf Course.
“I wanted to play as confidently and as well as I have all summer,” O’Connor said. “I’ve been practicing every day, and I wanted to continue to play well.”
Playing strong through the front nine, O’Connor had five pars overall, including three through the first nine holes and a birdie on the par-3 fifth hole. No other top-three finisher in the division had a birdie.
Overcoming some struggles with her putter, O’Connor compensated with strong play from the fairways to the greens.
“I wasn’t hitting well in practice, but my irons were good (in the round) so that surprised me,” O’Connor said. “I chipped in for that birdie so that set the tone. Once I got a par, I knew I could get a couple more.”
She faltered some on the back nine, finishing with a 49, but her strong play early was enough to claim the title.
Having finished third in the Girls 13 to 15 Division in 2011, Palos Heights’ Natalie Collina was looking to improve on her previous score. Moving up to the older division, Collina finished with a 97 — she shot a 100 last year — and ended in second place.
“I’ve been working on my chipping, and it was good today so I obviously wanted to improve my score,” Collina said. “I was playing well, even if my putting was a little off. I was able to bogey and par some holes.”
Oak Forest junior-to-be Jackie Pytko ended in third place with a 108. Pytko shot a 52 on the front nine and a 56 on the back nine.
“I was hoping for the best and wanted to hit as well as I could,” Pytko said. “It was hot out there, so I could have done better, but my irons were the best, and I managed some good drives so it worked out.”
Winning the Girls 13 to 15 Division and the Virginia Van Wie trophy, Frankfort’s Erin Bullington shot a 112, three shots better than Chicago’s Hannah McMahon.
Bullington trailed both her competitors through the front nine, regrouping on the back nine to take the win.
“My driver was going right (early) so I just started hitting left,” Bullington said. “I putted well and felt much more comfortable than I did (practicing at Glenwoodie) Saturday.”