ELIZABETH, W.Va. — Many golf fans were surprised a freshman won the West Virginia Girls High School Golf Invitational, but none more so than Taylor Sargent.
Sargent was the ninth grader who captured the second annual event. The Cabell Midland golfer shot 38-37 — 75 to win the championship by one stroke on the 5,603-yard, par-72 Mingo Bottom Golf Course.
"I didn't expect to win," Sargent said. "I knew there were a lot of good girls playing and I just wanted to do my best."
Sargent's best was good enough to have her name placed in the record books with last year's winner, Olivia Hart of Hurricane. Sargent bested runner-up Mary Denny of Woodrow Wilson by one stroke. Denny shot 38-38 - 76.
Emma Nicol of George Washington was third with a 42-36 - 78. Nicole Lincicome of Parkersburg shot 39-40 - 79 for fourth. They were joined on the all-tournament team by Molly McLean of Parkersburg with a 42-39 - 81; Sara Veara of Berkeley Springs with a 40-44 - 84; and Autumn Gillispie of George Washington with a 42-45 - 87.
Sargent led by three strokes after 15 holes, but a double-bogey on the 16th hole trimmed her lead to one. The tournament came down to the 18th hole, where Sargent lipped out for par, but her bogey was good enough to keep her one shot ahead of Denny and give her the championship.
"It's really amazing," Cabell Midland coach Matt Stead said. "She was smiling the whole round. She was confident. That's something you normally don't see from a freshman."
Sargent has played golf since she was 6. She gave up competitive dance to concentrate on the game.
"I'd like to play in college, but that's a couple of years away," Sargent said, with a giggle.
A cousin of Marshall University women's golf coach Brooke Burkhammer, Sargent said she has learned the game from her, as well as Todd Sargent, her dad.
"I've played golf with Brooke a little bit," Sargent said. "My dad taught me a lot."
On Tuesday, Sargent put to use what she has learned. She said her putting and driving was strong.
"I switched putters on Monday," Sargent said. "I think that helped."
Sargent's putting hadn't been up to par for much of the season and she said she was glad to get it straightened out.
"I've been playing pretty good lately," Sargent said. "I had a rough start, but I've kept getting better every time."