The Girls Rule! Hearp and Hunnell Finish 1-2 in McLelland Invitational

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(L-R) Meagan Board, Lyndsey Hunnell and Kristin Hearp sit on the sixth-hole tee box at Blue Hills on Thursday, waiting for the fairway in front to clear. The three played together in the final marquee group.
(L-R) Meagan Board, Lyndsey Hunnell and Kristin Hearp sit on the sixth-hole tee box at Blue Hills on Thursday, waiting for the fairway in front to clear. The three played together in the final marquee group.
(L-R) Meagan Board, Lyndsey Hunnell and Kristin Hearp sit on the sixth-hole tee box at Blue Hills on Thursday, waiting for the fairway in front to clear. The three played together in the final marquee group.

Move over guys. The front-runners of the local high school golf scene are teeing it up at the red markers. And, they’re taking no prisoners. Such was the case last Wednesday and Thursday in the 2-day, 36-hole Bob McLelland Metro Invitational Golf Tournament at Ole Monterey and Blue Hills, the annual early-season barometer for local high school golf.

When the dust settled and the story lines evolved, 15-year-old Hidden Valley standout Kristin Hearp prevailed with a convincing 135 total, good for a 5-shot win over Lord Botetourt’s Lyndsey Hunnell. Franklin County’s Landon Prillaman saved face for the guys with a third-place 147 2-day total, with Cave Spring’s Meagan Board coming in fourth at 148.

Hearp had set the stage for her win in the opening round Wednesday at Ole Monterey. Coming off a round of 81 on Monday in the Heritage Invitational at London Downs, Hearp scorched the Ole Monterey layout with a record-setting round of 9-under-par 62.

Hitting 17-of-18 greens in regulation and needing only 27 putts, Hearp was virtually speechless in the Monterey clubhouse after signing her scorecard that did not include anything over a 4.

“I really don’t even have words, to be honest,” Hearp said during the post-round interview with media. Ironically, Hearp’s previous career low round was at last year’s Heritage where she lost in a playoff after a round of 68.

“I was so confused with my game after the 81 Monday at London Downs,” Hearp admitted. “I came out on the range this morning and I wasn’t hitting the ball that well. Then I got out there and it was just like everything came together. I got the ball in the fairway and was 4-under after nine. Then I birdie 11, 12 and 13 and I knew I was going low.”

Playing partner Hunnell was firing a pretty impressive 68 of her own, her second-best career round, but falling further behind as the round progressed. “I’m shooting 68 and I’m 6 shots behind,” Hunnell, who has verbally committed to play golf for UVA in 2014-15, said, shaking her head. “It was amazing watching her. I wasn’t even worried about my score.”

Hearp and Hunnell seemed destined to be paired with Cave Spring’s Meagan Board in Thursday’s prestigious final group after Board posted a 72. But, Board’s Cave Spring teammate T.K. Garrett birdied the last two holes of his round for a 71 that had him set for the final 3-some. That is until Garrett went to the tournament committee and requested the three girls be allowed play together in round-two.

“They told me they would think about it,” Garrett noted during his round Thursday. The committee agreed on the request and Garrett became the GQ poster boy for giving up his spot and setting up the marquee all-girl threesome.

Goodbye field for any chance of a guy’s comeback.

The girls fed off each other’s play all day in the second round at Blue Hills.

“It was really nice playing with Lyndsey and Meagan,” Hearp noted afterward. “It was so fun and so relaxing. We’re all good friends. It helped a lot. I didn’t think about my score and just played my game.”

“We had a lot of fun and were still giggling down the stretch,” Hunnell added. “It made me play better.” Hunnell had the low round of 72 Thursday, but the six-shot differential at the start was too much to make up.

The girls stayed close to the leader most of the final round despite two early three-putts that gave the others a glimmer of hope, but Hearp sealed the deal with a birdie-2 on the par-3 17th. And, for those implying it was easier since the girls were hitting from the red tees, be reminded, you still gotta hit the shots.

On the shoulders of Hearp’s win, Hidden Valley captured the team championship with a 616 total. Cave Spring and Franklin County tied for second, 7 shots back. William Byrd came in fourth.

The sizeable gallery for Thursday’s final group included Hearp’s grandparents Eddie and Dawn Hearp who were tracking Kristin’s play with authority.

 Eddie was kidded that tradition states than when someone shoots a 62 in the McLelland, the grandfather buys the player a new car.

“Hold on, Kristin has a twin sister,”  Eddie Hearp laughed. “That means I’ll have to buy two.”

No problem, Eddie. Dealerships will sell you a pair. It may be a rare transaction, but so are rounds of 62.

– Bill Turner