Whitlock takes 4A district golf title in friendly battle

Strong finish sends golfer, Union team to win at district

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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WOODLAND — Good friends have started a new rivalry in high school golf.

photoReilly Whitlock

Reilly Whitlock of Union rallied to win the Class 4A district girls golf championship Tuesday at Lewis River Golf Course, topping Battle Ground's Taylor Hartley.

"Being that it was so close makes it even better," Whitlock said. "It wasn't an easy win. I had to work for it."

Whitlock trailed by a stroke after the 15th hole of the day — the 33rd of the tournament — but then made up four strokes on Hartley over the final three holes to win the title by three shots. Whitlock shot the round of the day with an 81 on the par-73 course, finishing the two-day event with a 161.

She also helped Union to its fifth consecutive team title. The Titans scored 205 points, easily outdistancing second-place Camas, with 160.5

Hartley was gracious in defeat, giving her opponent a hug just before the awards ceremony. But she is already planning on payback.

"It felt great to come so close, but next year I'm not going to let her take it away from me," said Hartley, who fired 82-82 for a 164.

Hartley said being "close friends" with Whitlock just makes for a more intense competition.

"I'd rather beat her by 25 than one. That didn't happen today," Hartley said.

"Trust me," Whitlock said, "I'd rather beat her by 25, too."

Instead, the two sophomores were in a virtual match-play event on the back-nine Tuesday.

Whitlock had a disastrous two-hole stretch to end the front nine with a double-bogey and triple-bogey, allowing Hartley to get within a stroke. The match was tied after the 10th hole, and remained that way through No. 14. A bogey from Whitlock on No. 15 gave Hartley the lead.

"There were only three holes to play. I was really stressed out," Whitlock said. "I was thinking we were going to tie or I'm going to lose by one or two. I didn't want that. I knew I'd have to do something great in the last three holes."

She played those last three holes at 1-over, tying the match on the 16th, then taking a one-shot lead on the 17th.

"I just tried to keep it together and not get too stressed about anything," she recalled as she stepped to the 18th tee.

Hartley said that was her problem after taking the one-shot lead. She just did not handle the situation well.

"I need to keep control of the 'Oh My God' moment," she said. "Those last few holes, it was so intense. I just lost it on the last few holes."

Hartley did not win district, but she is going to the Class 4A state tournament. The top five from this event will be competing in Vancouver on May 28 and 29 at Club Green Meadows.

Joining Whitlock and Hartley at state: Union's Alicia Kwon, Camas' Elise Filuk, and Battle Ground's McKenzie Alamillo.

The next eight golfers will compete in the bi-district tournament next week, a final chance to make it to state.