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CLASS 6A STATE GIRLS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP: Trio of seniors shoot 76, tied after opening round

by Joe Luciano | September 28, 2022 at 3:04 a.m.

A Cabot golfer who carried an emotional burden through last season's Class 6A state girls golf championship is in a three-way tie for the lead after the first round of the two-round event this season.

Cabot senior Emmerson Doyle shot a 5-over-par 76 from 5,400 yards on the Burns Park Championship Course in North Little Rock to share the lead on Tuesday.

Doyle is tied with senior Lauren Milligan of Springdale Har-Ber and senior Lauren Pleiman of Bentonville. Junior Elizabeth Lim of Fayetteville is fourth at 7-over 78, and junior Charlie Whorton of Har-Ber is fifth at 8-over 79.

Har-Ber is the first-round team leader at 42-over-par. Fayetteville is second at 43 over, and Bentonville fourth at 45 over.

Doyle finished seventh in the 2021 tournament, but she said her father was hospitalized throughout.

"I don't like to blame it on that, but it did make a difference," Doyle said. "[Seventh] isn't bad, but I knew I could do a lot better."

Doyle said her father is currently in good health.

"He's a lot better," she said.

Golfers said the well-groomed course and its speedy, guarded greens provided a pleasant challenge.

"I thought [the course] was in great shape," Doyle said. "The fairways were in good shape. The greens were good, even though they were fast, they were in great condition. I loved it."

Burns Park head professional Steve Ralston said he was pleased by compliments from the state's best prep golfers.

"We've been working hard on it for the last seven or eight years," Ralston said. "It's not that we didn't before that, but we've had some funds that have been directed toward the golf course that have made all the difference in the world."

Doyle played in a foursome of 6A top-seeds Caroline Hughes of Jonesboro, Chloe Freville of Mount St. Mary, and Yinyoe Yang of Conway. Yang shot 81, Freville 82, and Hughes 85.

Doyle was 2-under par after three holes with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. After a three-putt bogey on the 460-yard par-5 4th, she played through the remainder of the front nine at even par to make the turn at 1-under 34.

After a hidden root helped lead to a bogey on the 435-yard, par-5 11th dropped her to even par, Doyle responded with a birdie on No. 12, a bogey No. 13, and another birdie with an 8-foot putt on the par-4, 303-yard 14th hole.

Next came a type of two-hole runs of misfortune common to amateur golfers.

With her second shot, Doyle hit into the creek that runs in front of the 15th green, the course's steepest from back to front. She hit her fourth shot, after a penalty drop from the water, 8 feet past the pin near the front of the green. She knew her first putt would either fall into the cup for bogey or roll to the fringe. It did the latter.

"I tried to play enough break, barely tapped it, and it ran all the way down the green," Doyle said.

Her following uphill putt stopped short, and she putted in for a triple-bogey 7.

At 4 over, Doyle pulled her tee shot on the 130-yard, par-3 16th into a bunker left of the green. The ball settled to the far left of the trap, 2 inches from its steep 3-foot outer ridge. Limited to choice of shots far left or right of the pin, Doyle went left, off the green into rough.

Doyle's chip landed near the pin but rolled 10 feet past. Her first putt missed and stopped 5 feet away. She made her second.

"I was still a little frustrated, but I felt better about it after making that putt," she said.

With a par on No. 17 and a birdie on 18, Doyle finished tied for the lead.

Her performance helped Cabot win the 6A-Central Conference championship. Har-Ber won the 6A-West.

"We played well when we had to," Cabot Coach Matt Malham said.

Print Headline: Trio of seniors shoot 76, tied after opening round


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