Caraline Oakley walked out on the golf course Monday morning during the two-day Suffolk girls golf championship at Middle Island Country Club with a chance to make history.
The sophomore had her eyes set on becoming the first girls golf individual champion at Southampton, in the team’s inaugural season.
Oakley played on the boys team last season, since the school did not offer a girls team.
After completing 36 holes, Oakley and last year’s runner-up Paige Diecidue (Smithtown West) were deadlocked at 11-over-par (153), and the championship headed to a playoff.
On the first playoff hole, both tee shots landed in the fairway, but Diecidue’s ensuing shot found the bunker. Oakley hit her second shot into the rough to the right of the green, pitched her third shot to within a few feet of the hole and converted her par putt to defeat Diecidue and capture the title.
“I really hope I can inspire other girls to play,” Oakley said. “I feel like so many people doubted this team and not many people think about golf that much, but I hope this makes people realize that it is still possible. It is just an incredible feeling.”
Oakley and Diecidue were tied as they approached the final hole in regulation. Diecidue missed her birdie putt, setting up Oakley with a chance to win, but her putt didn’t fall. The girls each missed their following par putts, and made bogey.
“It was kind of surreal, honestly,” Diecidue said. “I was proud of myself of course, but I was also very nervous because I really worked hard for this. I am really happy for Caraline, she did great.”
Oakley entered three shots behind Diecidue going into Tuesday, then shot the low round of the tournament with a 3-over-par (74).
In addition to Oakley and Diecidue, seven other girls qualified for the state tournament that is scheduled to be held June 1-3 at the Yellow Course at Bethpage State Park.
Last year’s champion Emily Montagnino (Smithtown West) was in the same group as Oakley and Diecidue and finished third (154), falling just one stroke shy of forcing a three-way playoff. Sayville’s Ceili Howland (160), Southampton’s Kaitlyn Browne (163) and Sayville’s Hannah Niggemeier (165) also qualified, along with Commack’s Stephanie Miller (168) and Ava Zimmerman (176), and Hauppauge’s Colleen Buckley (177).
Abby Curry of Bayport-Blue Point shot a 181 and will be an alternate.
Backed by a strong performance from Howland and Niggemeier, Sayville won its third consecutive team title and earned a spot in the first state team tournament with a score of 925. Southampton finished second (932), Smithtown West was third (960) and Commack placed fourth (967).
“I hope it is going to be a brilliant experience for the kids,” Sayville coach Tim Dillion said. “We are really humbled to have the opportunity to represent Suffolk County as a team, to represent our school and our community.”