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Grier leads way as four golfers head to states

September 27, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

There are three prep golfers who could travel the highway behind one that is very familiar with the way to College Park and not worry about getting lost.

Smithsburg's Alicia Grier qualified for the third time while Williamsport's Andrew Duff, Boonsboro's Caleb Hudlow and North Hagerstown's Steve Hutzell each qualified for the first time to the Maryland State Golf Tournament.

The 1A-2A finals are slated for Oct. 24-25 at the University of Maryland.

Each made the grade as an individual. Every Washington County team was shut out, failing to place in any of the top three slots.

The trip to College Park has become a tradition to the Grier family. Previously, sisters Ashley and Andrea had made four visits apiece to the state tournament.

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Grier, playing competitive golf for the first time in three weeks, fired a 1-over-par 73. Meanwhile, Duff adjusted after a horrid start to finish with a 76, four strokes below the qualifying cutoff. Hudlow posted a 76 and Hutzell carded a 78 at Black Rock Golf Course in the 1A-2A District 1 Tournament on Tuesday.

"I'm just glad I could play," said Grier, who has been fighting mononucleosis and strep throat. "I would eat something and sit down whenever I could. The last three holes, my legs were really starting to hurt."

However, five birdies along the way may have taken some of the discomfort out of the system for a bit. Starting on No. 18 in the shotgun format, Grier birdied Nos. 1 and 5 on the front and then 10, 11 and 16 on the back nine to finish 36-37.

Duff, Hudlow and Hutzell can easily find their way to College Park by following Grier.

Duff misfired on his first three holes and found himself 4-over par before he corrected his game to shoot 40-36.

"To come back is huge ... I feel great about it," said Duff, a junior at Williamsport. "Last year I had three double bogies and I missed qualifying by a hair."

Duff credited putting to steadying his nerves and birdies on No. 9, 12 and 16 certainly helped.

"After that start, I just thought it couldn't happen gain," he said.

Hutzell, a North senior, finally broke through to help erase some past memories when rounds of 87 and 86 kept him from heading to College Park. He was in good shape after a front nine 37 and held on for a 41 on the back that included a triple-bogey on No. 15.

"Being my senior year, I just had to go out and do it," said Hutzell, who plans to apply to attend college at Maryland and possibly try golf as a walk-on. "I knew I had to come out and compete to win."

Hudlow made the most of his final opportunity as a senior with a career-best round.

"I was draining 10-foot putts that really helped," said Hudlow, who started his round on No. 18 by draining a 22-footer. "That one really set me off good."

Walkersville won the team championship for the fourth straight year with 319 strokes.

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