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Grier saves best for last

August 17, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

Alicia Grier proved Wednesday that the only time the lead matters is at the end of the match.

The Smithsburg senior trailed for her entire round, only moving to the top of the leaderboard at the final hole of the Washington County Golf Championships at Black Rock Golf Course. Grier was sitting in second until Williamsport's Matt Weber double-bogeyed his final hole for a two-stroke swing.

Grier trailed Weber by one stroke as they took their final tee shots - Grier on the par-4 18th hole, Weber at the par-5 16th.

Shortly after sinking her par putt for a 77, Grier got word that Weber struggled on No. 16 and that medalist honors belonged to her. It was Grier's third title of the year, following wins in the Junior Masters and WACO Juniors.

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Grier got off to a shaky start, going 5 over par after six holes before she regained her composure. She fought off bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 before missing one birdie opportunity on 16 and converting another on 17, hitting a 100-yard wedge to the front left of the pin.

Facing a 20-footer for a birdie on No. 18, Grier went two feet past the pin and had a quick downhill putt for par.

"On 18, I'm hopeful of making a birdie and maybe getting into a playoff," said Grier. "I could tell I still had a chance. I thought missing that birdie chance was too costly."

Meanwhile, the layout of Weber's final hole was symbolic of his battle ahead: Uphill, 485 yards.

Weber took the safe play by using a 5-wood off the tee, but the left-hander guided the ball to the right. He was forced to punch out from under a tree to leave himself a reasonable third shot.

He made a switch from gap wedge to use a 3/4 pitching wedge, but the approach shot fell short of the green. His pitch ran 20 feet past the green, his first putt zoomed eight feet past the cup and he had two more putts to finish out the double.

"I hit the ball so well today," said Weber. "I've been working to get my swing back every day on the range and 78 is pretty solid. I made nice putts, but I just missed on that one 'great' shot all day."

Nonetheless, Weber's effort helped Williamsport to team honors with a 317 aggregate from its top four scorers. Andrew Duff and Brendan Benisek each carded a 79 and Eric Wilfong had an 81.

North Hagerstown was second at 354 followed by Smithsburg (358), South Hagerstown (364), Boonsboro (381) and Clear Spring (429).

"I think depth-wise we probably have the best team in the conference and maybe the region," Williamsport coach Rod Steiner said. "But on paper, you can only go so far. We left too many shots out there today, but I think junior golf has really paid dividends for the kids."

As for Grier, there are still goals to achieve before the end of the season, with the next looming Monday in the Tri-State Junior Championship at Fountain Head Country Club.

"I don't have a trophy from Fountain Head and that's a goal," she said. "And I know I can win the state as a medalist this year."

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