WEST CHICAGO – Unflappable.
That was Ariana Furrie on Monday at the Upstate Eight Conference girls golf tournament.
Nothing fazed the St. Charles North senior. Not the chilly morning start. Not the gusty wind that kicked up on the back nine. Not the geese ambling slowly in front of her as she prepared to tee off on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Her demeanor on the St. Andrews course projected a confident “been there, done that” attitude, which ultimately paid off as Furrie topped Neuqua Valley freshman Jessica Yuen as the league’s individual medalist.
“I’ve been playing for so long and been in so many playoffs, that it doesn’t get to me,” said Furrie, who also won the league title two years ago.
Furrie’s effort also helped North win the conference tournament, but the North Stars still finished second to Waubonsie Valley in the final league standings.
“We still came up short,” North coach Chris Patrick said. “Having two losses in the conference during the year put us in a little bit of a hole against Waubonsie Valley, so they had to finish worse than second.”
The Warriors’ team score of 344 was seven shots behind the North Stars.
St. Charles East entered the day tied with North in the league standings and left tied with Neuqua Valley for fourth. The Saints posted a team total of 364, led by senior Paige Jordan’s 79, the day’s fifth-best score.
“I played well, I just couldn’t putt,” Jordan said. “I greened the holes, then I three-putted, that was how my day went. … I had the most amount of putts today that I ever have had in my high school career.”
Furrie missed a six-foot putt for the win on the first playoff hole, but that didn’t bother her. She calmly sank an eight-footer on the next hole just to stay alive, then put her tee shot within two feet of the pin on playoff hole No. 3. The beautiful drive with her 6-iron on the 140-yard hole started out right, then drew back to the left, landed on the green and rolled nicely toward the pin.
“I hit the same club earlier and it kind of did the same thing,” Furrie said. “I played it a little more right this time because last time it just kind of rolled down the hill.”
Yuen’s drive also found the green and her 25-foot birdie putt missed just right. She sank her three-foot par putt, then watched as Furrie showed no nerves in sinking a putt eerily similar to a putt for par on the same hole that she missed earlier in the day.
“I knew the putt at least,” Furrie said. “I knew what it was going to do. So I was pretty confident.”
Furrie and Yuen both finished with 2-over-par scores of 73 over 18 holes. Yuen missed a one-foot putt on the 18th green that would have given her the championship, shocking Furrie.
“She had been making all putts all day,” Furrie said. “She was making even long ones. Like the hole before, she had a birdie and she made a really long putt. I didn’t know the scores on 18, but when she missed it, I figured something was up.”
North junior Jessica Grill placed eighth individually with an 84, one stroke in front of teammate Jordyn McFarlane. Sam Scroggin added a 95 for the North Stars.
Geneva (380) finished sixth in the final conference standings. Megan Kelly paced the Vikings with a 92.
“The back nine was kind of rough,” Kelly said. “I got a 49. The front nine was much better. I shot a 43, which kind of boosted my confidence at the end of the round.”
Lauren Anderson’s 91 was the best score for Batavia (403), which wound up seventh.
“It was all over the place,” Anderson said of her round. “I’d make a birdie, then I’d go make a double [bogey], then I’d make a bogey. … It was definitely a scrambling round today.”
While Anderson and much of the field was scrambling, Furrie treated her tournament victory that also clinched her UEC Player of the Year honors like just another walk in the park.
Walking near a tame squirrel on the first playoff hole, Furrie again was unfazed.
“He’s so cute,” she said. “I just want to pick him up.”