Dramatic 40-foot putt on playoff hole gives American Heritage girl Class 2A state title

Walter Villa
·3 min read

Kelly Shanahan dropped her putter, bent over and started crying.

Shanahan, a 16-year-old junior at Plantation’s American Heritage, made an incredible 40-foot putt from the edge of the green on Wednesday afternoon, giving her the Class 2A individual girls’ state golf title in a one-hole playoff over Sabree Lefebvre at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.

“I was trying for a two-putt,” Shanahan said. “I wanted to get the ball within three feet of the hole.”

Shanahan was shocked when her ball kept rolling.

“I said, ‘This is not happening,’ ” Shanahan said. “I was thinking, ‘That would be insane if it went in.’ ”

It did, and the insanity ensued as she was mobbed by her teammates in a euphoric group hug.

Shanahan shot a 71 on Tuesday and a career-best 69 on Wednesday, finishing with a 4-under-par 140 before the playoff.

This was Shanahan’s first individual state title. She also led the Heritage girls to their fifth state team title since 2013. The Heritage girls (629) finished 20 strokes ahead of second-place McKeel. Heritage’s Broward County rival, Archbishop McCarthy, finished third (656).

Heritage freshman Katherine Schaefer, who finished 10th at state last year, improved to sixth place on Wednesday with a two-day total of 151.

Before the playoff started, Shanahan wasn’t exactly supremely confident. The playoff started on the first hole, a long par four with water on the right and some trees and bunkers on the left. Shanahan had barely made par on this hole on Tuesday and had suffered a bogey on it earlier on Wednesday.

Then, in the playoff, she pulled her tee shot by the bunker. She then wanted to hit over the trees, but she didn’t quite get that done and yet still made it to the edge of the green, and that’s where she made her 40-footer.

“I’ve been playing this course at the state finals since the sixth grade,” Shanahan said. “It plays like a North Carolina course with a lot of hills. But I got here several days early so I could practice putting on these greens, and it paid off.”

Shanahan wasn’t the only Heritage golfer who won an individual state title on Wednesday. Junior Luke Clanton shot a blistering 7-under 65 on Wednesday — just one over his career best — to win the championship by nine strokes. He shot an even-par 72 on Tuesday.

Clanton also made a 15-foot putt on the final hole on Wednesday to allow Heritage to tie Ponte Vedra in the team competition.

In the playoff, each team had all five of its golfers play the same hole, and the top four scores were retained. Ponte Vedra won that battle to earn its fourth consecutive state title and its sixth since 2013. No Florida school has won more than six boys’ golf state titles.

The Heritage boys have won two state titles, most recently in 2016, and they have finished second to Ponte Vedra four straight years and all six times overall.

That explains Clanton’s feelings.

“I’m not really happy even though I won,” said Clanton, a 16-year-old who has committed to golf for Florida State University. “I wanted to win as a team. That’s what I’m here for, and we didn’t do it.”

Girls’ volleyball

Southwest d. Palmetto (25-11, 25-22, 25-10): Layla Cortez 8 kills; Gina Chickillo 12 assists, 2 aces; Sheila Rodriguez 6 kills, 3 blocks.

Bowling

TERRA boys: Casey Puett a 238 game and 624 series; Ryan Toffoli 246 game, 706 series. Girls: Ella Perez 242 game, 595 series; Gillian Pons 220 game; Alexa Puett 172 game.