Archmere’s’ Brinker takes 2nd state golf title, 3rd straight female to win

Phoebe Brinker

TOWNSEND — At this point, there shouldn’t be any doubt.

In Delaware high school golf, the girls can definitely play with the boys — and sometimes they play even better.

Archmere sophomore Phoebe Brinker won her second DIAA individual state title in the last three seasons by firing a second-round 69 as the two-day tourney concluded on Wednesday at Odessa National Country Club.

More than that, it’s the third straight year that a female player has won the state crown. On Wednesday, second-place finisher Austin Barbin of Red Lion Christian was the only male among the top six players.

Barbin shot a second-round 73 to finish with a three-under par 141 — just one shot behind Brinker, who carded a 140. Brinker’s 69 was the low round of the day on Wednesday.

“i didn’t know where he (Barbin) stood but I heard he was finishing well,” said Brinker, who was playing for Tower Hill when she won her first title in 2016. “I kind of thought it was going to be a playoff. I just focused on what I was doing and tried to get as low as I could.”

Barbin said there’s just a group of really talented female players in the state right now.

“It’s hard,” he said. “These are the top-five best lady golfers not only in the area but also in the world. We have girls committed to Duke and Virginia. It’s highly competitive.”

The female players do play a shorter distance. The course was set up at 88 percent for female players on Tuesday and 89 percent on Wednesday.

Barbin, though, said he generally didn’t have a problem with females playing a shorter course.

“The set up was fair,” he said. “The first day, two holes were a little questionable but she (Brinker) definitely deserved it. They played great golf all week.”

“They know it’s not the course as much as us being great players,” said Brinker, who has already committed to Duke. “I mean we practice all summer and we’re really dedicated. There’s just a lot of good girls out there.”

Tower Hill won its third team title in a row with a score of 527, 19 shots better than second-place Appoquinimink (548). Caesar Rodney (571) placed fifth, marking at least the sixth straight year the Riders finished in the top five in the state.

Milford’s Kyle Strassle was the only Henlopen Conference player to finish in the top 10 individually. The senior took ninth after shooting a 77 on Wednesday to card a two-round total of 151.

It was the second state tournament in a row that Strassle was the top-finishing downstater. He also won back-to-back Henlopen crowns.
Strassle said he’s proud of the way he improved during his career.

“I will say when I first came in I was not a great golfer,” said Strassle. “But senior year and junior year treated me very well. Honestly I just wanted to feel better about myself as a golfer.

“I definitely do think I got more than I bargained for.”

Chip shots

Polytech’s Connor Young was the second-best Henlopen finisher after placing 12th at 155. Sussex Academy eighth-grader Hannah Lydic was 17th … Vincent Alois and Akira Pavey were the top CR finishers at 20th and 21st. … The Riders’ Matthew Miller chopped 18 strokes off his first-round score, going from a 93 to a 75 on Wednesday.

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