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Peyton is 20th in the state

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Sophomore bounces back after one bad hole

By Greg Woods

All it took was one bad hole.

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One bad hole and Mackenzie Peyton’s goal of shooting in the 70s for a top-10 finish in the KHSAA state golf tournament was dashed.

On the par-3 11th hole, Peyton shot a 9. But she regained her composure, and finished the round with an 81, which put her in 20th place.

Despite the bad hole, she finished eight spots and eight strokes better than last year, when she shot a two-day total of 168.

Teammate Maddie Hensley also competed in the tournament, shooting a 98 in the first round. That 98, unfortunately, was not enough to make the cut to play in the second round.

“The experience of playing in the state tournament at such a young age can be nothing but positive for Maddie,” Coach William Peyton said. “I think she really felt nervous on the first tee Tuesday when they announced her name and school. This was the first time. She has already started talking about playing in some of the summer golf tournaments.

“Both girls played in a steady drizzle all morning on Tuesday,” he said. “The course was soaked and the greens each seemed to putt different. We have been here two years before and this is the first time they did not get the first round completed. Many players had to come back and finish Wednesday morning. That put quite a hardship on a few people who had to wait to see if they made the cut to play on Wednesday.”

When rounds were completed Wednesday morning, Hensley had missed the cut but Peyton had made it easily. Her first-round 79 put her in a tie for 10th place heading into the final round.

Wednesday couldn’t have been more different for the players as the sun shone brightly all day and a steady breeze made the course fairly dry.

Peyton had reached her goal on Tuesday of shooting in the 70’s despite the rough conditions. Wednesday, she set her sites on another round in the 70’s and a top 10 finish.

Peyton started strong on her first two holes. After making par on the first hole, she hit a great drive and an even better second shot to get within three feet on the par-5 2nd hole. She rolled the short putt in for eagle.

After making bogey on the third hole and par on the 4th hole, Peyton came to the par- 5 5th hole and had a big decision to make. She could hit her driver a long way and risk out of bounds on the right or play it safe with the 3-wood and go for accuracy. She chose to go for it with the driver and even though she easily outdrove her playing partners, the ball sailed out of bounds. She had to take the penalty and hit again. She managed to get the ball on the green but had a long, quick putt for bogey. The putt was dead center, but hard, and the ball hit the back of the cup and bounced out. She had to settle for double-bogey.

She then went par, bogey, par, par to finish out the front 9. Her 9-hole total was 2-over and put her in position to accomplish her goal. She started the back 9 with a par on 10 and then came to the hole that nearly blew her round apart.

It was the short, par-3 11th hole.

Bunkers on each side guarded the green.

Peyton landed in the right bunker on her tee shot. From there the bunkers took a toll.

She ended up with a 9 on the hole and now stood at 8-over with seven holes to play.

Needless to say, the hole was rough for the 15-year old to shake off, but she did just that.

She came back with a par on the next hole to right the ship. After a bogey on the next par-3, she got her focus back, along with her sense of humor.

“On 14 I just said to myself, ‘that’s one bad hole for the year, don’t worry about it,’ then I got to where I was joking about it with (Coach Peyton),” she said.

“Then I was thinking if I blew up in front of Maddie (Hensley, who stayed to watch Peyton’s second round) that would be bad. I didn’t want to act like that in front of her.”

Peyton played steady for the rest of her round and even dealt with adversity on the final hole of the day. The 18th hole is a par-5 with a narrow landing area. It has a fairway bunker on the right and trees to the left. On Tuesday, Peyton had made double-bogey on it. On Wednesday, her tee shot went right and landed in the bunker.

The look she gave her grandfather and coach was one of fear mixed with bemusement. She took a long time to figure out what she wanted to do and then hit the ball cleanly out of the bunker. But just in front of the bunker some low-hanging branches from a large tree caught her ball and left her short of her normally lengthy 2nd shots. She now had to contend with another tree and if she hoped to make par, she would have to avoid the trees and get on the green. But the ball again brushed the upper limbs and came up short.

On her fourth shot, she chipped it to about 12 feet. She now had a long putt to save par. Peyton calmly stepped up to the ball and rolled it in to finish the day at 81. It was a remarkable feat considering the emotions that must have been running through her head.

The day after the tournament, after having time to digest the event, Peyton took a positive outlook.

“I felt like I played pretty good,” she said. “I felt like I reached my goal of shooting in the 70’s on the first day. And other than that one bad hole and the last three on day one, I played pretty good, especially putting.

“I putted awesome and hit the ball well. On the second hole that I eagled, I hit my hybrid club as well as I could hit it.”

And that one hole on Wednesday? “It wasn’t frustration really. It was more like embarrassment because it was at the state tournament,” she said, “It helped to hit a good drive on the next hole and get par.”

Her grandfather, and coach, was proud of the way she bounced back. “Mackenzie did not quite reach her goal of a top 10 finish but she still improved to number 20 from last year,” he said. “160 girls played in the tournament and to reach number 20 is very good. We are very proud of Mackenzie and the way she bounced back from probably one of the worst holes of golf she has ever played.”

With the possibility of two more state tournaments in her future, Peyton will have a chance to erase the memory of that one bad hole. After her performance on the 18th hole, she may just be made of the stuff to do that.