Lindy McGuire was long gone after the first day.
Defending champion Alaura Brogdon made the William Blount pep rally for the Maryville game a whole lot more interesting.
When he needed it most, Maryville freshman Nick Bridgeman was as cool as the other side of the pillow.
McGuire put a seven-stroke lead into the girls’ field of the Blount County prep golf tournament on its first day last week. During Tuesday’s final round at Royal Oaks, the Alcoa High School junior never let her thoughts get ahead of the hole she was on, finishing off a three-day, championship run with a 1-over par 38.
“The first day, I was just trying to get a good lead going,” McGuire said. “My strategy after that was just to try an add a stroke or two everyday.
“(Tuesday), I just told myself, ‘It’s not over yet. You still have to play your best.’”
The winning blitz by McGuire marked the third consecutive year the defending girls champion, each time a senior, was bested by a junior for the title.
“Well, next year, it’s going to change,” McGuire quipped.
McGuire’s final round, with the tournament shortened to three days because of rain, wrested the title from William Blount’s Brogdon by six strokes. Maryville’s Cassie McCracken finished 11 back in third.
Brogdon, a Tennessee Wesleyan commitment, would find consolation with an eagle midway through the final round, a big-time shot that’s going to prove costly for Lady Governor coach Mike Johnson.
Prior to the tournament, Brogdon got Johnson to agree to wear a cheerleading uniform - Maryville cheerleading uniform - to the William Blount pep rally when the Governors play Maryville if she could drain the shot.
“He said if I made a eagle in the county tournament, he’d dress up as a Maryville cheerleader,” Brogdon said. “All my teammates were cheering for me.”
When the eagle landed, Johnson was with another group, but he would get the news soon enough.
“He wasn’t happy,” Brogdon said.
The Governors visit Maryville Oct. 23.
Bridgeman held off a charge from challengers Logan Vaughn of Heritage and Grant Daugherty of Alcoa to win the boys championship, the Rebel rookie knocking a birdie putt stiff on No. 9 to turn back Vaughn by a stroke, 113-114, after three days. Daugherty would finish two back.
“I was thinking, ‘Birdie, birdie, birdie,’” Bridgeman said. “I knew I needed a birdie to win.”
Bridgeman’s last-hole stand was great theater, but a clutch save several holes earlier was probably the one that put him over the top.
Daugherty applied some real heat on Nos. 3 and 4, going birdie, birdie to get close. The door seemingly swung wide open when Bridgeman landed his tee shot on the par 3 No. 5 at the bottom of a steep hill, 10 feet below the green.
“I never had a gap,” Bridgeman said. “Toward the end, I thought I’d thrown it away because they were hitting birdies left and right.”
Hidden from view, Bridgeman recovered to get on the green in three, rolling a 15-foot putt home for bogey. Considering the severity of his tee shot, it proved as useful as Brogdon’s eagle.
Tim Bridgeman, one of the county’s top amateurs, watched his son’s winning finish from greenside. The night before the final round was a stressful one, he said.
“I think he handled it better than I did,” Tim said. “I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I had a real restless night, and I think he slept like a baby. I’m so proud of him for hanging in there.”
After Nick signed his scorecard, it showed.
“He gave me a big bear hug,” Nick said. “He said, ‘You did it!’”
While Daugherty couldn’t quite catch Bridgeman for the individual crown, his pacing over the three days led the Tornadoes to their first Blount County team championship in seven years. The Rebels finished runners-up, with the Mountaineers and Governors third and fourth, respectively.
Brogdon’s run to second in the girls field, coupled with a fourth-place showing from William Blount teammate Megan Lawson, helped the Lady Governors keep the girls trophy at William Blount for a third consecutive year.