YORK — The second day of play at Heritage Hills Golf Resort for the state championship in golf played much like the first: fast greens, unforgiving rough, frustration around every corner.
It's fitting that Isabella Dilisio used the most unbelievable putt of the day to seal the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Girl's AAA state title.
Dilisio, of Mount St. Joseph Academy, came into the final hole trailing by a stroke. Hammering a drive with all her might, she stretched her approach to the fringe of green where she ran a 25-foot putt into the bottom of the cup.
"I was one down going into the last hole and I knew I had to make birdie or eagle in order to have a chance to win,' Dilisio said. "I was just trying to play it one shot at a time and keep focused.'
Dilisio, a junior at the Mount, has been flirting with a top finish in the state tournament ever since her freshman year when she finished in third place. Last year, as a sophomore, she claimed the District One title and followed up by finishing fourth at states.
"It's really nice, it's a good win,' said Dilisio, whose school will compete in the team tournament on Wednesday. "Because, you're playing for your school too, so it's a win for you and it's a win for your school.'
Through two days, Dilisio found success by hitting fairways, which wasn't easy either, and then planning accordingly for the fast greens.
"It's not necessarily about sticking it to five feet every time, it's about sticking it to five feet in the right spot,' Dilisio said. "You can have a five-footer downhill that you just aren't going to make — it's so difficult.'
Dilisio said this was by far the most difficult the course she has been on her three years of competing in the state championship. She compared the rough and the speed of the green as something the Professional Golfers Association would play at the US Open.
"The tough pin placement didn't surprise me,' Dilisio said. "They always make it as tough as they can, and it makes it interesting, but it's so tough to keep focused.'
Her three straight bogeys on the 13th, 14th and 15th were the result of missed putts. On No. 14, her approach shot landed slightly above the hole, but her slight tap sent her birdie-putt 10 feet past the hole. She three-putted for bogey.
"I couldn't have hit it any softer than I did,' Dilisio said. "It's all you can do.'
While the slight sprinkling of rain did little to slow the speed of the greens, the players adjusted their approaches. Rather than swinging for the pin, players often chose to land safely below the hole whereas putting downhill meant certain doom.
Brandon Vance, the 2013 Pioneer Athletic Conference Champion out of Methacton, who had said after day one that his putting was "really, really bad,' came out and played the consistent round that he expected. His second-day round of 74 gave him a tie for fifth place.
"I always want to go lower, so I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't,' Vance said. "I'm happy that I placed, that's definitely an upside.'
He and younger brother, Kyle, who also finished with a round of 74, will join the Methacton team on Wednesday for the team championships.
"Our team is on the course right now,' said Vance as the sun was setting over Heritage Hills. "I just told them to get on the greens as fast as possible and try to get used to them because they're just so tough.'
As for the rest of Montgomery County's young golf stars, they've wrapped up their season, some of them their high school careers. John Foley of Spring-Ford finished in a tie for 18th place with a two-day score of 15-over-par. Wissahickon's Jalen Griffin did not fair better than he had on the first day, shooting nine-over both days to finish in a tie for 22nd.
"Coming into this tournament, I felt that my game was the strongest it's ever been,' said Griffin, who had shot one-over through the playoffs. "I thought I could really get the W here, but right from the get-go my strengths were just my weaknesses.'
Despite his stellar play throughout the season, it was the dastardly greens that spelled his undoing. He was one-over through his front nine before his foot slipped on the 18th tee and his drive splashed down in the water — he made triple bogey and never quite recovered on the back nine.
Nevertheless, with a commitment to the University of San Francisco to play golf and snowboard season soon approaching, the memories of his final high school tournament will not linger negatively.
"I'm not going to let this be a rue for how I've done the last four years,' Griffin said. "It's been an awesome experience ... I'm just happy to make it here three straight years, it's a good feeling.'