Monroe High School senior Sammi Blackburn and Eaton junior Sarah Willis began dueling during their pre-teen days in junior golf and kept it going through their high school years.
Asked who’s had the overall edge, Blackburn said, “I think it’s even, but she’s got me a few times recently.”
Willis proved to be hard to beat in the Division II state golf tournament this weekend, winning the individual crown with a pair of 2-under-par 68s at the Ohio State University Gray Course to win by three shots. But her Southwestern Buckeye League rival had a memorable weekend, too.
Blackburn rallied from a so-so opening 74 to card a 68 to finish third for the second straight year and earn All-Ohio honors. The senior knew she had to go low to catch Willis and took an aggressive approach.
“I went after every flag,” the Bowling Green-bound Blackburn said. “I hit the lines I needed to hit to be able to score.”
Willis, though, didn’t back up.
“We knew we left some shots out there Friday, and we were going to have to take some chances today,” said Monroe coach Bob Hunt, who walked the grounds with his player. “We tried. A 68 on this course is pretty impressive.”
Blackburn became the first Monroe girl to reach the state when she qualified last year. She was paired with Willis and both brought their “A” games.
“We’ve played together forever,” Blackburn said. “My early impression of her was that she’s competitive. She could be your best friend, but she’s going to make sure you follow the rules — and everybody should be that way. She’s an amazing person and amazing player, and I love playing with her.”
Madison senior Phillip Wilson shot 83-81—164 in the D-II boys tourney and was disappointed with his middle-of-the-pack showing.
His tourney momentum was blunted when he encountered trouble on the OSU Scarlet Course’s undulating greens.
He wasn’t alone. Ohio State aerated the surfaces a couple of weeks ago, and they weren’t as smooth as usual.
“I hit the ball OK, but my putting wasn’t there both days,” he said. “Nothing fell outside of five feet.”
Wilson is only the second Madison boy to reach the state.
“I think this is one of those things he’ll appreciate down the road — that he made it here,” Madison coach Casey Weidner said. “It’s something he can tell his grandkids one day.”