ZACHARY — A wide range of thoughts raced through Taylor Kennedy’s head Wednesday morning.
“When I woke up, I was very nervous,” Kennedy said. “I thought, ‘What if I don’t perform?’ If that happened, I knew somebody could catch me. It’s my senior year, and I really wanted to do well.”
There was little for the Runnels senior to worry about.
Kennedy missed a couple of chances to extend her lead on the back nine but still won the Girls Metro golf tournament at BREC’s Beaver Creek Golf Course.
Kennedy’s score of 3-over-par 75 put her three strokes ahead of second-place finisher Jessica Varner of St. Joseph’s Academy. It was the second Metro title in three years for Kennedy, who was the runner-up by one stroke a year ago.
The victory keeps Kennedy unbeaten to date in her senior season, a point that is notable because she plans to attend Mississippi State in the fall and currently doesn’t plan to walk on to the golf team.
While Kennedy struggled at times on the back nine with her putter, Varner used hers to gain an advantage. The Centenary signee saved par on No. 17 and then made a birdie on the final hole.
A double-bogey on No. 13 kept Varner from putting added pressure on Kennedy down the stretch.
“I’ve been struggling with my putting and I think my putting improved today for sure,” Varner said. “On most holes, I was killing my drives, too. It would have been nice to be closer, but this is the best I’ve played against (Kennedy).”
Of course, being part of a team title was the primary goal for Varner.
The Redstickers achieved their goal with the low score of 185. Zachary outdueled University for second by just two strokes.
ZHS finished at 192, followed by UHS at 194. Third-place finisher Paige Johnson, who carded an 88, led the Broncos. Kennedy and Runnels placed fourth at 205.
“I am extremely proud of these girls,” St. Joseph’s coach Brad Buras said. “I think we’re trending in the right direction … improving as we go toward regional next week and then state.
“You can’t always look at just scores. I like the attitude and the approach they’ve shown. Jessica Varner is a four-year starter who has been a tremendous leader. We’re looking forward to the next two weeks.”
Zachary coach Kenny Langlois said his girls were disappointed because the Broncos beat SJA in a playoff to win the Division I state title a year ago.
“This was good in a lot of ways,” Langlois said. “Our girls were talking about shots they just missed on. They feel like they left a lot of strokes out there. Maybe we can pick them up at regional and state.”