HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS — Terese Romeo is unshakable on a golf course.
The Freedom High junior, who came back from a pair of wrist surgeries prior to her sophomore season, played most of 2012 swinging with just one hand, before reaching state and finishing 11th.
She entered this season’s Class 3A state tournament at Mission Inn Golf Resort ready to show what she could do. And she did just that Wednesday — for 26 holes.
Unfortunately for Romeo, she came up just short of capturing the 3A individual medalist crown after finishing the second round in a three-way tie for first and falling on the eighth playoff hole to Sarasota Riverview’s Kadi Pallastrone.
“It’s nice to see how far I’ve come and I feel like I’m on the track I want to be on to play college golf,” the still-uncommitted Romeo said. “It was a day I needed to shoot a good round and I did. If you look at it in the two days, I tied for first. I’m not going to look at this as a loss. I played some great golf and now I’m ready for next year to do what I didn’t do this year.”
Romeo, Countryside senior Madison Glennie and Pallastrone finished regulation at 2-over 146 before moving to the first tee at Mission Inn’s Las Colinas course. Romeo and Pallastrone each carded a par on the first two playoff holes, while Glennie’s senior season ended with a bogey on the second hole.
The two remaining golfers matched one another as each had a chance to win it on the fifth and sixth holes. Skipping holes Nos. 7 and 8, the duo moved to No. 9, where Pallastrone found herself in a bunker and Romeo missed a short putt, sending them back to the ninth hole’s tee box.
That’s where Pallastrone prevailed.
“Every time I’m in a playoff I just assume the person I’m playing is going to make their putts — if I don’t it’s not any good for me mentally,” Romeo said. “So I knew she was going to make hers, so I just did what I knew I could and moved on to the next hole.”
◄ On the second go-around at No. 9, ► Pallastrone went left and stayed in the fairway, Romeo did not, going right and finding herself among the pine needles and standing on the cart path. Her second shot proved costly as she fired the ball off a tree and caught a root with her swing. Romeo reached the green and forced Pallastrone to make her putt, which the Rams senior did to take the title.
◄ ► After returning to the clubhouse Romeo reflected on the audience of about 45 people the playoff drew for eight extra holes. “I love that, it’s the coolest thing to know they are there,” Romeo said. “To hear people clapping and knowing that it’s for you.” ◄
On the boys side, Newsome junior Tyler Bakich said after his opening round Tuesday that he was hoping to honor his late mother, former LPGA player Colleen Walker, with his performance. The Florida State commit closed with a 1-over 73 and tied for second with a two-day 2-under 142, while helping the Wolves to a runner-up finish.
► It was a tough second day, as Bakich and Lakewood Ranch senior Ramsey Touchberry were the last group to tee off, something that he said weighed on the duo. ◄ “I would have liked to have shot better,” Bakich said. “ ► But with Ramsey and I teeing off last it didn’t help either of us. ◄ ... But if I was told before the tournament I was going to shoot 2 under, I would have taken it.”
Newsome finished with a combined 608 as senior and Florida Southern commit John Michael Coultas finished tied for sixth with a 2-over 146 (74-72), finally taking home a team trophy after setting a school record of reaching the state tournament four straight years.
► “The first couple of years I was just kind of along for the ride with the team kind carrying us,” Coultas said. “But the last two years it’s become something special. I’m proud of our team and I’m happy with our finish.” ◄ The Wolves also got a lift from a solid second-day improvement from sophomore Mark Nauert, whose 75 pushed him into 48th place. He improved 11 strokes from his opening round.
The Wolves finished 15 strokes behind Lakewood Ranch (593), which won its second straight state title.
Davenport Ridge Community junior Sam Horsfield shot the day’s best round of 69 to win the individual medalist honors. ◄
Hillsborough County also got a look at what’s to come as freshmen Chris Kern (Plant, tie for 13th), Robby Eisch (Plant, tie for 30th) and Jacob Penny (Durant, tie for 33rd) finished in the top 50. Plant finished 10th, while Freedom led by senior Jimmy Jones (tie for 30th with a 78-80—158) finished 16th .
The Steinbrenner girls, led by junior Clair Becker (20th with a 76-84—160), finished sixth with a team score of 674 with Kelsey Hobert finishing in a tie for 34th and Alyssa Serino in a tie for 36th.