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Benham nips Dooley in golf opener

August 20, 2008
Crawford County's Chelsea Benham and North Harrison's Allison Dooley have been golfing against each other since the seventh grade, and each time Benham has come up a little up short against her opponent and friend. Last Tuesday, the 16th hole at the Old English Golf Course was the difference, however, as Benham beat Dooley by a stroke in a season-opening meet.

"It's a pretty proud moment," Benham said after edging Dooley 41-42. "Allison's a great player, and it always gives you more confidence when you beat her. I only beat her by one stroke and she's beat me by many strokes before. It does give me a boost, but she just went wrong on that one hole and that's what hurt her today. Other than that, she played a great round just as well."

The 16th hole proves to be disastrous for North Harrison senior Allison Dooley, after she finds the trees on her second shot. Dooley finished with a 42 for the day, one shot behind Crawford's Chelsea Benham. North Harrison won the overall match against the Lady Pack, 185-225. Below, Benham finds the fairway on her tee shot on the 16th hole and finishes with a birdie. The hole proved to be the difference in Benham's 41-42 win. (Photos by Wade Bell)
"I had one bad hole," Dooley said. "I'll do better. It's our first match."

Benham, Dooley and North Harrison number two Courtney Barr were all paired together in the opener of the 2008 season. Benham got off to a nervous start while Dooley and Barr were both finding the center of the fairways.

"I started out on 10 — 10 was my struggle hole," Benham said. "It was my first hole of the season. It's nice to get it out of the way. I double-bogied it. I was a little nervous. Everyone's nervous.

"On 12, on my second shot I knocked it into the woods so I had to pull out and then I hit a tree. I didn't think I was going to hit one of those, so I double-bogied that one. Those two double-bogeys really hurt me, but other than those two holes, I thought I played one of my best rounds."

Dooley's driver was also paying off with her drives flying the longest of the threesome. Dooley said. However, those drives were not the most important, she said.

"It's nice to have, but I want to focus more on putting and chipping," Dooley said. "If my driver goes wrong, I'll definitely fix it. I think the first shot gets you leaning in a good path."

Barr said she tries to feed off her teammate when Dooley is playing well.

"She helps me a lot," Barr said. "When she does something wrong, I try to fix it with my thing. We do the same things wrong at some times."

After getting past the first two holes, Benham was more relaxed and began playing equally as well as her opponents.

On the 15th hole Barr got some help from the cart path to give her the longest drive of the day, but the ball landed just inside a patch of blackberry bushes. After chopping out of the problem, her next shot flew 20 feet past the pin. Barr made up for it, however, as her long putt tapped the flag pole and dropped in the hole.

"I started off good, then I hit a couple of bad shots that went out and then I got really tensed up," Barr said. "Once I calmed down, I played better."

Then came the 16th hole and disaster for Dooley. The North Harrison senior's first shot carried only about 60 yards into the middle of the cart path. After taking a drop, Dooley's next shot went far right into the trees on the right side of the course. Meanwhile, Benham's first shot found the fairway on the right side, while Barr was in the middle of the fairway.

Dooley's next shot out of the trees went only a few feet, and the North Harrison standout, showing some uncharacteristic frustration, had to take a second drop. Dooley finally got up on the green and double-bogied the hole. Benham, however, made the hole work for her, finishing the 16th with a birdie.

"After the chunk, I kind of got scared," Dooley admitted. "I hit down on it and then after that, I went in the woods and tried to hit out of it. It didn't work out, and it went on the road. Then, I had a bad lie because I was on a hill. … I let that one get to me a little bit."

Barr's next job was a tough one, trying to get her teammate's spirits back up for the final two holes.

"I felt really, really bad for her because I know she breaks down," Barr said. "I try to make her feel better. I try to not worry about it and make it interfere with my game. We're really, really good friends and it was hard."

"Her tee shot, she kind of dubbed it, and her second shot, she just pushed it a little bit to the right and got in a little trouble," Benham said. "I used a seven (iron) and got out in the fairway and hit a little chip shot, which I like to do, and ended up making a putt. It was very quiet birdie, but it was a birdie none the less."

Dooley got her groove back on the 17th hole, but it looked like a problem was going to develop on the 18th when Dooley's tee shot went left for a difficult second around a group of trees. The North Harrison senior, however, made it look easy as she curved the ball around the trees within a few yards of the green.

The damage had already been done, however, as Benham got the 41-42 win over Dooley. Barr finished as the Lady Cats number three for the day with a 45 behind teammate Megan Woolston, who shot a 44 for the nine holes.

"I want to work on putting and not hitting the dinks," Barr said. "I did that a lot today. I'm hoping to improve a lot. I want to shoot under 40. As long as I break 40, I'm good."

Dooley said she played during the whole summer, but said high school golf is a lot different than the summer amateur tournaments.

"High school is more relaxed," she said. "In the summer the tourneys are strict. I guess I'm just used to strict rules."

Dooley said she has to forget about this round and think about the matches to come.

"It was just a bad day," she said. "I just have concentrate and not let it get to me. I've got to concentrate on the next shot. I'm just going to try to forget about it. Besides that hole, I was doing all right. I ought to be happy with the score. I'll try to do a lot better than I did today."

North Harrison won the overall match, 185-225, over the Lady Pack.

Benham said she still has some fine tuning to do on her game. The other thing, she said, is just keeping the nerves intact.

"All I'm going to have to do is just try and keep playing the way I'm playing but eliminate those little penalties where you hit it into a hazard or just those little shots that you dub here and there," she said. "You've just got to work on eliminating those little shot factors, work on those key putts and things like that. Just working on the little stuff mainly and try to stay calm."

North Harrison 185

(Allison Dooley 42, Megan Woolston 44, Courtney Barr 45, Sara Lang 54)

Crawford County 225

(Chelsea Benham 41, Nikki Kitchens 56, Brandi Lewicki 59, Alivia Newton 69)

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