LAFAYETTE — When East Iberville’s Julia Johnson stuck the green from 169 yards out on her second shot of the par 5 18th hole at Les Vieux Chenes golf course, coach Andrew Wyly couldn’t contain an outburst.
“Great shot, girl!” Wyly yelled from his golf cart. “I wish I could hit like a girl, I can tell you that.”
Johnson left her eagle putt just short of the cup, but tapped in for a birdie to seal her third consecutive Division II state golf championship — and she’s only a sophomore. Johnson broke par for the tournament with a 1-under 73 in the opening round, and an even 74 Tuesday.
“I’ve been lucky enough the past couple of years to walk up to 18 knowing I had it in the bag,” Johnson said. “I made myself work for everything the whole day, and to know that I didn’t have to go on that hole and get an up-and-down or save a putt, to know I could just go on and two putt to get out of here, it felt really good.”
It wasn’t easy for Johnson by any stretch. She entered the day with a four-stroke lead, but she saw that cushion turn to dust in the first few holes.
In blustery conditions, Johnson came out of the gates slow with three bogeys in her first four holes, allowing her close friend, Hannan eighth-grader Abbey Daniel, to close the gap.
Daniel parred each of the first three holes, then birdied the par 5 fourth hole to draw even with Johnson.
“That’s good though,” Johnson said about being tied early in the championship round. “Sometimes you need that. Sometimes you need them to get your mind straight.”
It appeared Johnson did just that. She made up two strokes with a birdie on the par 4 fifth hole, which Daniel double-bogeyed, and she didn’t relinquish the lead from there.
And with a three-stroke lead entering the final four holes, Johnson stomped on the accelerator, carding a birdie on three of her final four holes to win the tournament going away.
“You could sense that she was feeling her game,” Wyly said.
She wedged a blind approach shot to within a couple feet of the pin on the par 5 15th, then followed up with another great wedge for an easy birdie putt on the par 4 16th.
“This whole tournament, I have not felt comfortable on any shot I’ve hit except for my wedges,” Johnson said. “My wedges have been the thing saving me and letting me make putts.”
She sealed her tournament win with her second shot on 18, the type of shot that said exactly why she’s the state champion for the third straight year.
“One hundred sixty-nine yards into a 20 mile-per-hour wind,” Wyly said. “She hit a five-wood … swung free, and stuck it.”
Daniel faded a bit toward the end of the round, but her 4-over 78 was good enough for a second place finish in the individual standings.
Hammond sophomore Mary Frances Chauvin also fired a 78 to clinch a Division I individual title after finishing in second place as a freshman.
“I’m really excited that I came through today,” Chauvin said.
St. Joseph Academy’s Jessica Varner went 81-82 to finish fifth in the Division I individual standings, and Zachary’s Paige Johnson finished in a tie for 10th.
In Division II, Taylor Kennedy of Runnels placed fifth with scores of 81-82. Sulphur blew away the Division I field, going 160-161 to beat runner up Barbe by 48 strokes for the state title.
St. Joseph’s finished fourth in the team standings.
Notre Dame rebounded from a nearly ruinous front nine to take home the Division II state title by a 15-stroke margin over Loyola Prep.