Wissahickon freshman Elizabeth Beek captured the PIAA AAA Golf championship. (Photo provided courtesy of Patricia Beek/Wissahickon Golf)
By Ben Reese
YORK -- The rain didn't start to come down in earnest until the girls had putted out on the 18th green.
It was the first hole of a playoff for the PIAA Girls AAA Golf Championship at Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Spa. All three girls parred the hole.
Then Wissahickon's Elizabeth Beek, West Chester East's Victoria Kim and Sydney Yermish of Lower Merion raised their umbrellas and walked over to the tee box for the 10th hole to continue the playoffs. Beek and Kim parred the 10th but Yermish bogeyed it to fall out of contention.
Back to No. 18. Beek put her drive in the middle of the fairway but Kim's ball found the pond in front of the green.
Kim dropped and then hit her third shot into the water, allowing Beek to lay up in front of the pond.
When Beek hit her third shot within 20 feet of the pin and Kim put her fifth shot to the fringe, the playoff was all but over. Two putts for each girl finished it off and Beek claimed the championship.
"I feel very excited," Beek said. "I'm just very happy to be here. And I won and that's even better."
Did you realize what was happening on the final playoff hole?
"I didn't really think about it," she said. "I was just focused on myself and to just do the hole the way I wanted to. It ended up well and I won.
"It was tough going into the playoff. I just had to play my game, focus on myself and get the win -- and I did."
Beek had an opportunity to win the title in regulation. After Kim had tied her with a birdie on their 17th hole, Beek had a shot at ending it with a birdie on their 18th, which was No. 9 (Due to the impending weather, it was a shotgun start instead of tee times with all three girls starting on the tenth hole).
Yermish birdied their 18th but Beek 2-putted for a par, leaving all three tied at 2-over 146. That forced the playoff.
What about that chance to avoid the playoff?
"I wasn't really thinking about that," saId Beek. "I was just keeping a clear head and just trying to make the putt. If it didn't happen, just play another hole or so."
The Suburban One League's other entry in the state tournament, Dylan Gooneratne of Plymouth Whitemarsh, didn't fare as well as Beek. He shot a second-round 78 to go with his opening 77 for 155, good enough for a tie for 18th.
"I didn't play like I wanted to," he said. "I just wish I could have played a little better. I was striking the ball well. I was hitting good iron shots.
"My putting killed me. Yesterday I had too many putts; today I had too many putts.It was just the story of both rounds. I just wish I could iron that out a little more."
Gooneratne will have another opportunity to reach states next year as he is only a junior. And he is looking forward to it.
"It was not an easy ride to get here," he said. "I'm going to have to work really hard next year. I'm going to do my best to get back here again."
As for Beek, she has three more years to aim at more state titles, an idea that she relishes.
"I really love the game," she said. "Now that I have won, it makes me want to do better for other years and try my best again to get to states."
How was it in the playoff against two very good players?
"They are very talented players," said Beek, who was introduced to golf by her father when she was three years old. "I've played with them and they are both very good."
But it was in the playoff that the Trojan freshman shone.
"I was just thinking, 'Keep the ball in the fairway, get it on the green and try to make the putt,' " she said. "My goal was to just get the ball on the green and, it if was by the pin, that was a bonus.
"I had a pretty clear mind. The front nine it worked out. Once it started to get wet on the back nine, it affected green speed but the front nine definitely helped."
It certainly did. Beek shot a 2-under 33 on her first nine holes (actually the back nine) but shot a 40 on the final nine.
But then there was the playoff. And it all worked out in the end.