This is a goal that Molly Hale has worked years to achieve, and on Tuesday, she reached the top of the individual standings, winning the state title for 1A-3A girls in Canton.
Hale is three seasons removed for finishing second by one stroke as an eighth grader. Last playing on the girls’ side in 2009, she stepped aside to compete with the boys’ team at Ingomar last year before returning to girls’ competition this season. Along with teammate Grace Aldridge, the duo finished fourth in the team standings, but Hale finished on top of the individual competition by three strokes.
“I’m super excited,” Hale said of the individual title. “I’ve been trying since the seventh grade and have been here four times, and I’ve been so close in the past. I’ve wanted this and have worked to better my game over the years, and I’m super excited that I’ve been able to pull this out.
Hale was atop of the leader board after the first day, shooting a 76. Paired with Presley Baggett from Our Lady of Victories, she said that the competition was tough in Tuesday’s second round, and while she was nervous leading into the round, her experience from previous years prepared her for the day.
“I was so nervous, and I knew I had a good golfer right on my trail,” Hale said. “I just had to focus on being consistent, and I can tell you that I didn’t get much sleep last night. Once the first shots were out of the way, I calmed down, but Presley stayed on my tail, and she played great today as well.”
Hale finished Tuesday’s round shooting a 78, finishing with a two-day total of 154. Her teammate, Aldridge, improved nine strokes during the tournament and 16 strokes since the district tournament. While Hale has one more year left at Ingomar, she hopes to see the sport grow even more after she is finished at the school.
“It’s very exciting, and I’ve heard that we may have a couple more interested in joining the team next year,” Hale said. “My hope is that our accomplishments will continue to help the sport grow, and for Grace, I hope she continues to improve and whoop my tail in the future.”
This is also an emotional win for Hale, who finished her second season of competition since the passing of her father. Since his passing, Hale has dedicated her career to the man who introduced her to the game and supported her career.
“I wish he was here,” she said. “I know he’s looking down and overjoyed, smiling down on me. He’s by me each and every stroke and putt. It’s been hard to do this without him, but I have a great coach and an amazing community behind me, supporting me. I’m so thankful for that.”
Now with the addition of the individual title, Hale hopes a team title is in the future for the girls’ team.
“The focus is to keep working toward a team title, and I’m going to do my part to try and accomplish that next year,” she said. “I have things I want to focus on in my senior year, and I plan to continue to grow and keep a positive mindset going into my final year.”