COTTAGE GROVE — Milton girls golf coach Kirk Wieland was emotionally conflicted after his team ran away with the Badger South Conference team and individual championships Tuesday at The Oaks Golf Course.
He was understandably pleased with the Red Hawks’ convincing team triumph with a 327 total — 34 shots better than runner-up Oregon’s 361.
And he was excited for senior Mia Seeman, who birdied her 18th hole to finish with a 72 and then defeated Oregon’s Andi McCorkle on the second hole of a playoff to win the individual title.
But at the same time, Wieland felt terrible for junior Taylor Hakala, his No. 2 player, who was in position to win the tournament before a wayward second shot on her final hole led to a triple-bogey 8 and a final score of 73.
“It’s really bittersweet,” Wieland said. “As much as I’m excited for Mia, it probably feels that much worse for Taylor. She played beautifully. It just happens. It’s golf. I feel sick to my stomach for Taylor, because she played great all day long.”
Hakala, playing one group ahead of Seeman and McCorkle, was 1-under par heading to her final hole, the 422-yard par-5 No. 9. A perfect drive left her 178 yards from the hole.
“I normally hit my hybrid 170, so I thought that was a good club,” Hakala said. “But I had a blind spot toward the green and I thought about taking my 8-iron, so I was second-guessing myself.
“I decided to hit my hybrid, but I wasn’t committed to it. It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking to go to your last hole and lose it.”
Hakala’s second shot went left into deep trouble and things unraveled from there. Meanwhile, Seeman followed with her birdie and then figured her day was done. She packed up her clubs and was munching on popcorn in the clubhouse when she learned she would be in a playoff with McCorkle.
“I honestly had no idea,” Seeman said. “I put my clubs in the car, and five minutes before the playoff I had to run and get them.”
But Seeman, who finished second in last year’s conference meet to McCorkle’s sister, Taylor, quickly shifted into playoff mode.
“I’ve won a few and I’ve lost a few,” she said. “I wanted to make pars, and I knew if I made pars I’d have a good shot at winning. It’s always been one of my goals, to win conference.”
That’s how it turned out. Each parred the first playoff hole, and Seeman got another par on the par-4 No. 8 hole. Meanwhile, McCorkle hit her drive into the deep rough and ended up with a double-bogey 6.
That finish only slightly diminished McCorkle’s accomplishment for the day.
“Andi played very well,” Oregon coach Eric Instefjord said. “Seventy-two is a great score for her. She’s been hanging around that 80-82 range, and today she put it together today well for 18. She’s been on that cusp to break through and she did today. It was a great finish for her.”
In the Badger North tournament, Waunakee dominated with a team score of 365, finishing 30 strokes ahead of runner-up Beaver Dam.
Kendra Swanson of Beaver Dam shot an 81 to win the individual title, finishing two shots ahead of Waunakee junior Sam Soulier, who did win the Badger North player of the year honor based on her play throughout the dual-meet season and the tournament.
“We’ve been in that 360 range all year long,” Waunakee coach Paul Miller said. “That’s our strength, consistency.
“Sam’s been waiting on that big round. She wants to be in the upper 70s, but I think she’ll take that low 80s round. And to get player of the year, that was a goal for her.”