Tower Hill’s Brinker first female to win golf tourney

 

Caesar Rodney finished second in the team standings of the state golf tournament. The members of the team, in alphabetical order, are: Vincent Alois, Jack Dixon, Kyle Hoover, Akira Pavey, Devin Sanders, Kyle Satterfield and coaches John Newman and Michael Green. (Delaware State News/Andy Walter)

Caesar Rodney finished second in the team standings of the state golf tournament. The members of the team, in alphabetical order, are: Vincent Alois, Jack Dixon, Kyle Hoover, Akira Pavey, Devin Sanders, Kyle Satterfield and coaches John Newman and Michael Green. (Delaware State News/Andy Walter)

REHOBOTH — Phoebe Brinker didn’t even know she was making history until after she’d done it.

When the Tower Hill eighth-grader tapped in a three-foot putt on No. 18 to finish her round on Wednesday afternoon, she became the first female winner of the DIAA golf state tournament.

And not only that but, at 14, Brinker was probably the youngest individual winner of the tournament as well.

Tower Hill's Phoebe Brinker became the first female winner as well as the youngest winner of the DIAA golf state championship. (Delaware State News/Andy Walter)

Tower Hill’s Phoebe Brinker became the first female winner as well as the youngest winner of the DIAA golf state championship. (Delaware State News/Andy Walter)

“That feels really good,” said Brinker. “I don’t maybe (because) it’s male-dominated, it’s cool to break that stereotype. It’s a really cool feeling.

“I didn’t actually know that (until) after my round was over. Coach Kathy (Franklin) told me.”

Brinker’s title was the biggest story as the two-day state tourney concluded on Wednesday at Rehoboth Beach Country Club.

The Hillers, with two female eighth-graders in the top five, also won the school’s first team state title in golf.

Caesar Rodney had to settle for second place — it’s best finish since 2013 when it won the third of three straight state titles. The Riders scored 538 compared to 516 for Tower Hill.

Appoquinimink was third with a 554.

After shooting a three-under par 69 on Tuesday, Brinker carded a 71 on Wednesday to finish with a four-under par 140 for the tournament. That was six shots better than Appo’s Matt Pulgini (146).

Tower Hill’s Danny Doherty took third with a 147. After him were two more female players — Wilmington Charter’s Eshter Park (148) and Tower Hill’s Jennifer Cleary (150).

“I was more excited than nervous,” said Brinker, a Wilmington native who’s been playing golf since she was six. “Off the first tee, I had a little bit of the jitters. But that’s normal. I have that basically every single tournament I play.”

Brinker, who is transferring to Archmere next school year, finished with just one bogey against five birdies in her two rounds. The bogey came on No. 16 Wednesday, her 34th hole of the event.

“I played really well today,” said Brinker. “That, the bogey, was going to happen eventually. That would be crazy not to have any bogeys for 36 holes. But I kept the ball in the fairway and I hit a lot of greens.”

The top two downstate players were both from CR. Junior Devin Sanders (151) tied for sixth while senior Jack Dixon (152) tied for ninth.

After last year’s fifth-place finish, the Riders gladly accepted their runnerup trophy.

“I think the kids had a great year,” said CR coach John Newman. “We came down here and we thought we had a chance to win it. I thought our kids played very, very well. I’m proud of them.”

Sanders followed up a first-round 73 with only a 78 on Wednesday. He started the day with a birdie but played the back nine at four-over par to end up in a tie with three other players.

“We’d like to come in first but second place is always good,” said Sanders. “We feel pretty good. We knew it was going to be tough. But we always have next year to try to get first.

“We’ve been playing pretty good all year. At the end of the year we started to click. We had confidence coming in.”

Dixon put up a 76 in both his rounds. The senior was in pretty good shape when he made the turn at one-under par on Wednesday.

The last nine holes were more difficult, though, as Dixon shot five-over par on the back nine. Still, ninth was his best career finish in the state tourney.

“It could have been better but I’m happy with it,” said Dixon. “(Finishing second as a team) is definitely an improvement. We had to play really good to beat Tower Hill. They have a lot of good eighth-graders. They were pretty steady the whole time.”

Dixon said the Riders could take pride in being the top finisher among public schools this year.

“We’ve just been working hard all year to get to this point,” he said.

Notes

With each team’s low three scorers counting on Wednesday (as opposed to the low four in the first round), CR’s Kyle Satterfield tied for 12th with a 155. … The next-highest finishing downstater was Indian River’s Joey Cooper (160) who tied for 20th. … Salesianum, which won the last two team state titles, finished fourth. … Brinker’s brother, Ty, also an eighth-grader, tied for 16th. He is transferring to Archmere as well.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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