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Kaitlyn Riley is sure she didn't play her best golf at the state high school tournament last week.
The record book, however, is just as sure about her place in Anderson County sports history.
The senior shot a two-day total of 156, a score that was 12 strokes over par at Bowling Green Country Club and good enough for 22nd place in the state. But when Riley launched her first tee shot Friday, it marked her fourth consecutive start in the final rounds of high school golf each season.
It is certain that Riley is the first Anderson girls' golfer to ever accomplish a 4-for-4. It is believed she is the first Anderson athlete in a single-class sport to earn a state tournament quadruple.
“It is crazy and hard to believe,” Riley said. “I have worked hard and it paid off.”
Riley, who started playing golf competitively when she was in the sixth grade, saved her best state tournament for the last.
Her total was seven strokes better than her finish last year and 21 strokes better than 2011. As a freshman, in 2010, Riley made the state, but was cut after the first day when she shot a 97.
Friday, Riley might have known her chance at a state championship – eventually won by West Jessamine's Grace Rose with a two-under 144 – would be out of her reach after firing a 79 over her first 18 holes.
Riley got in a bit of a bind from the outset when she double-bogeyed the first hole. “I had a good drive, but then my second shot went over the green and I just didn't putt,” Riley said.
But the senior regrouped, playing even over the next six holes before carding bogeys on No. 8 and No. 9. She finished with a seven-over 79.
“I can't say I wasn't nervous,” Riley said. “I knew it was my last time I could be here.”
Not great, but Riley felt she would have 18 more holes in her high school career. “I felt pretty good about it,” she said. “I know that if I didn't make it, it just wasn't meant to be. There would have to be some ridiculously low scores.”
Riley said she was “not hitting the ball solid. I pretty much kept the ball on the fairways, but my second shots killed me. I didn't hit a lot of greens.
Riley easily survived the cut, which came at 83, then turned in a solid round in Day 2. Starting on No. 10, she was three-over at 39 when she made the turn, then birdied No. 1 and No. 4. A double-bogey on No. 2 might have ended any hope of a miracle, but Riley finished in a four-way tie for 22nd along with Rachel Gathof and Meredith Moir of state team champion Sacred Heart and Summer Simmons of runner-up Calloway County.
Last year, Riley finished 28th at the state.
“For as bad as I was playing, I am proud of my score,” Riley said with a smile.
A basketball point guard and softball second baseman in middle school, Riley opted to give up those sports to concentrate solely on golf. Several colleges are very interested in having her on their golf teams, but Riley says she has not committed to any school yet.
“I am definitely going to take a break now,” she said, “but I will have to get back out on the course soon.”
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