YORK — The odds seemed stacked against Madie Smithco.
Not only was the North Catholic junior four strokes off the lead entering the final round of the PIAA Class AA Girls Golf Championship Oct. 23 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort, but she nearly had to withdraw from the competition due to health issues.
“I suffered several concussions when I was younger and ever since have been prone to getting them,” she said. “Back in February, I was just messing around and hit my head and started having symptoms again.”
Those symptoms returned Tuesday. After eight holes, Smithco began having a migraine headache that caused her to lose her vision and she became dizzy and nauseous.
With 10 holes left to play, it appeared as though Smithco's chance at defending her state title from last year was gone.
“I sat down and thought to myself, 'I can't do this'”.
Fortunately, the PIAA rulebook allows for a 15-minute timeout in case of medical issues.
“That helped a bit, but I still had to play through a lot of pain the rest of the way.”
But play she did. Trailing by four strokes after the timeout, Smithco battled the difficult course, tough weather conditions and the leader at the time, North East's Lydia Swan, to win her second straight title with a plus-11, 155 (78-77) in the two-day, 36-hole event.
Swan finished with a plus-13, 157 (74-83).
“I couldn't be more proud of the way Madie played today,” said North Catholic coach John Haggerty. “She was in complete pain the last 10 holes, but gutted it out and refused to quit.
“The wind made things very difficult,” added Haggerty. “It wasn't just a breeze, it was gusting. The boys' scores were high, too.”
Swan, a freshman who carded a plus-2, 74 in Monday's first round, found the going much tougher Tuesday. She bogeyed six of the first 10 holes, then needed eight shots to finish a par-4 on the 12th hole.
Smithco and Swan were in the same group on Tuesday.
“On a couple of shots, I could see her hold her hand up to her chest,” Smithco said. “I can remember the pressure I felt when I was a freshman. You could tell, it was starting to get to her.”
Haggerty has previously commented on the strong mental aspect of Smithco's game. Despite her 4-stroke deficit entering the second round, he believed it could help her overtake Swan.
“She's very talented and has received a lot of accolades,” he said of Swan, “but she's still a freshman. She was going to have to make a lot of big shots to win.
“I told Madie to stay calm and continue to hit her shots.”
Following her quadruple-bogey, Swan trailed Smithco by three strokes. The former never did erase that gap.
In the end, Smithco was six strokes better than Swan on Tuesday.
“I remained conservative with my shots and was just looking to make par on every hole,” said Smithco. “Luckily, it was very dry, unlike the courses back home. If you hit the fairway, your shot could go a long way. I was able to do that and aimed for the middle of the green.”
In Class AA boys action, North Catholic senior Tre Bartony rebounded from an 82 on Monday to card a 74 Tuesday, earning a medal by finishing in a four-way tie for 10th place with 156 total strokes.
The title was won by William Mirams, a senior from Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg who shot plus-7, 149.