SEWICKLEY — Draining a pair of 35-plus foot putts on back-to-back holes can only help one's confidence on the golf course.
When Madie Smithco accomplished it on the second and third holes at the WPIAL Class AA Girls Golf Championship last Wednesday afternoon at Diamond Run, it got her thinking.
“This might be my day,” said North Catholic's junior and resident of Cranberry Township.
It certainly was.
Smithco carded a two-over-par 74 to win the district title by one stroke over Sewickley Academy's Tatum McKelvey.
Smithco, the defending state champion, had placed second in the WPIAL as a freshman and third last year.
“Tatum and I were going back and forth the whole day,” said Smithco. “I'm nervous all the time and was really nervous today. It feels really good to win a WPIAL title.”
North Catholic coach John Haggerty was impressed with Smithco's effort.
“I was working the event, so I only got to see her play about five holes,” he said. “But I saw her drain the 40-footer on No. 3. Winning here was definitely one of her goals. She realizes what winning a WPIAL title means.”
McKelvey and Smithco were tied after 16 holes, but the latter managed a par on 17 while McKelvey took a bogey. With a one-stroke lead on the final hole, Smithco used one last long putt to help seal the deal.
“She hit a 40-foot putt to within inches of the hole,” Haggerty said. “All she had to do was tap in. That put a lot of pressure on Tatum, who had to drain a 25-footer to tie. Her shot slid just past the hole.”
Only once on Wednesday did Smithco miss a fairway.
“She shot a 74 and that's pretty much right on par with what she has done this year,” said Haggerty. “She's a gritty player.”