LITTLE ROCK — For the final tee shot of her decorated high school career, Conway’s Summar Roachell faced a ball-devouring monster, one that she fed two easily about four hours before on Thursday.
This time, she sent a high shot right into the teeth of the par-3, No. 2 hole at Pleasant Valley Country Club — and with just the right spin.
“I was just trying to hit a solid shot,” said Roachell, who won her third high school state Overall golf title in four years the hard way. “I knew I could do it. It was the perfect yardage. I saw it hit the green in the shade, but I didn’t know where it ended up.”
She could tell it was pretty good by the cheers and shouts of those alongside the green.
The ball was about a foot and a half from the hole.
She clinched the girls title minutes later with the short birdie putt on the second playoff hole among three golfers who had tied in regulation with 8-over 80s. After each golfer parred the first playoff hole, Sarah Childers of Valley View hit her ball in the pond that fronts the green, effectively knocking herself out of contention. Right before Roachell’s winning putt, Madison Talley of Clarksville, a former Overall champion and Roachell’s longtime rival, missed a 12-foot birdie putt.
Earlier in the day, Roachell had triple-bogeyed the same hole.
“I was hitting the ball a lot differently than I did the first time I played the hole,” Roachell said. “That (triple bogey) is always in the back of your mind but you can’t let it get to you. I figured a couldn’t shank a ball into the hazard any more than I did the first time. I shanked it about as badly as you can shank a shot.”
Both boys and girls golfers had problems on the tricky PVCC course with its challenging greens that demanded precision approach shots.
The scoreboard was a mass of 80-pluses in both divisions.
The front nine gave almost every golfer fits. The ability of Landon Hearnes of Mayflower, who plays for Central Arkansas Christian, to master the front nine (2-under 34) was the different in him taking the boys Overall title by one stroke over Conley Hurst of Episcopal Collegiate. Hearnes came in at even-par 72. Hurst finished at 73. Only four golfers broke 80 in the boys division.
Parker Rice of Conway, the 7A state champion, finished fourth with a 41-36-77. Landon Enderlin of St. Joseph fired a 43-38-81 to finish sixth, one of the highest placements for a Bulldog golfer in history.
Rice was even par going to No. 6, then went bogey, bogey, double-bogey, bogey on the next four holes. He salvaged the remainder of the round with back-to-back birdies.
“I was sporadic all day and I struggled on 6-9,” Rice said. “On some holes, I hit the ball good. I learned the greens have some places here that you don’t want to be. It’s a tough course. I’d like to have about four holes back. But I finished strong and it was a good year.”
Carson Roberts, Rice’s teammate, also struggled on the front nine, firing an 45 before finishing with a 37 to finish tied for seventh at 82.
Katherine Bartley of Class A state girls champion Mount Vernon-Enola came in at 101.
Roachell, who has won four straight 7A girls titles, faced an uphill battle all day. She was 7-over on the front nine and 1-over on the back. Talley just missed a chip from a bunker on the 18th that would have given her the title outright.
Talley denied Roachell a chance at sweeping the Overall during her high school career by edging her for the championship during the Conway golfer’s sophomore year.
“She’s a good competitor and we’ve gone head-to-head several times in junior golf,” said Roachell, who has committed to play for the University of Arkansas. “It was nice to even things out with her in the Overall this time.”