This year, thanks to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been unlike any other.
Not for some, but for everyone.
Leila Raines managed to nab a brief slice of normalcy earlier this week, though, winning the Ohio Junior Girls Championship for the second time.
The Olentangy Berlin grad and soon-to-be Michigan State Spartan shot back-to-back rounds of 70 to secure top honors Monday and Tuesday at Marion Country Club.
“I was hitting fairway and greens pretty consistently,” Raines said. “Marion Country Club has some fairly challenging greens with some tricky pin placements on day two. I left some putts out there that I would like to get back, but all in all, I was able to make the putts I needed to make to have two under-par rounds.”
Raines’ combined 140 was two strokes better than the 142-shot effort of Warren’s Gianna Clemente, who finished second.
New Albany’s Anna Ritter and Kary Hollenbaugh finished third and fourth with respective two-day totals of 143 and 144, and Canton’s Madison Reemsnyder smoothed out the top five with a 145.
Olentangy Liberty’s Gracie Baun and Delaware Hayes’ Hayley Dye also competed. Baun finished with a 163 while Dye had a 164.
Her first Ohio Junior Girls Championship title, which she secured in 2018, was memorable, but winning for a second time felt even better, Raines said.
“Winning the first time felt good because I struggled the first day of the tournament and came back with a strong 4-under par the second day to force a sudden-death playoff,” she said. “But winning this time felt even better because it will be one of my last junior golf events. Also, knowing that I’m only the fifth person to win the Ohio Junior Girls Championship twice — and it hasn’t been done since 2005 — that really feels good.”
Raines said being able to go out and do what she loves, especially considering all that’s going on in the world, feels good, too.
“I’m very thankful that playing golf has been able to provide me with some sense of normalcy during these uncertain times,” Raines said. “My two sisters also golf and for us to be able to get outside, get some fresh air and feel safe while playing on the course together was a huge blessing for us this year.
“And the fact that I have been able to compete is especially important for helping to prepare me for my freshman year at Michigan State University. I’m extremely thankful this sport has been able to continue throughout this pandemic.”