By JIM MISUNAS
CHENEY — For most of the day, Larned’s Dorothy Keenan was ahead of eventual state champion of Karee Dinkel of Hays-Thomas More Prep at Cheney’s Cherry Oaks Golf Course.
Keenan played her first six holes in 4-over-par to built a four-stroke lead on Dinkel. The next six holes, she played 4-over-par to maintain a 3-stroke lead on Dinkel. With six holes left, Keenan was four shots ahead of eventual runner-up Paige Price of Caney Valley and six strokes ahead of third-place finisher Winnie Shaw of Wichita Independent.
However, one poorly struck tee shot cost Keenan a shot at her first state championship. Keenan missed her drive, which landed in a water hazard. She compounded the error when she reached the green, which triggered a late struggle on the greens. Keenan gave away her solid play for 12 holes with an eight at the par 4 No. 13 hole.
Over the final six holes, Keenan played 10-over-par while the three players in contention for the top three spots played the final six holes in 3-over-par.
Keenan started the back nine with a three-putt and continued that trend with a three-putt at No. 14 where she misjudged the green’s speed and slope on a downwind putt. She hung within two strokes of Dinkel, but missed an opportunity to move closer with two more three-putts at No. 15 and 16. At both holes, she decelerated her putting stroke and left her first putts well short of the hole.
But Dinkel matched Keenan with a pair of three putts of her own. Keenan gave herself one last chance with a 240-yard drive that her a decent shot to reach the par 5 17th hole in two shots. However, she chose to play it safe and hit a second shot 100 yards shy of the green.
Keenan hit her third consecutive green in regulation, but required four putts to complete the hole. Keenan was unable to restore any momentum with a closing double bogey for a 47 on the back nine.
Keenan said she never felt comfortable on the greens and lost her ability to gauge the speed of the greens late in the round.
Dinkel posted a score of 13-over 85 with Price (87) and Shaw (89) edging Keenan (90) for second and third-place medals.
Larned coach Toni Notovny said she is optimistic about 2016 with the majority of her team returning. Emma Ayra is Larned's only senior. State qualifiers Haley Skelton, Madison Gleason, Leann Peterson and Jaicee Walker all competed at the state tournament.