E.A. Sports Today

Sophie’s super season

Sophie Burks shoots final-round 68, wins Women’s Stroke Play Championship by 10

Sophie Burks rolls in a putt on the 16th green on the way to winning the State Women’s Stroke Play Championship. On the cover, she accepts the winner’s trophy from AGA president of the board Carol Lell. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD —Sophie Burks has played some of the best golf of her career over the last year and shows no sign of letting up.
Starting with a runner-up finish in the Southern Women’s Amateur a year ago last week and extending with Thursday’s Alabama Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Cider Ridge Golf Club, the rising Middle Tennessee junior is on the best run of her life.
Between those 53 weeks she lowered her collegiate stroke average by two shots, had a couple top 10 college finishes, won the State Women’s Four-Ball for the second year in a row (with Samford’s Mary Kate Horton) and went back to the Southern Women’s Am last weekend and finished eighth.
She had the best round of the entire tournament Thursday, posting a 4-under-par 68 for a three-day total 214 (2-under-par) and a 10-shot victory over Carson McKee of Hoover. Anna Claire Little of Auburn and Anniston’s Layne Dyar tied for third.
“I’m happy with how I’ve progressed,” said Burks, who lives in an Elmore County crossroad called Flea Hop but calls Tallassee home. “My game has become more consistent, I’m more frequently around par, if not better and not that far above on a bad day, so over the year I’ve been really happy with that.
“One thing I’m really most proud of, and I’ve seen it pay off, is my stroke average; I think that speaks volumes about a game. I try to minimize errors. I used to have a lot of doubles in a round; now if I can just make a bogey I’ve taken that. You can make birdies and get rid of those.”
How good was the round Thursday? Burks hit every fairway, missed two greens (1 and 8) and had 30 putts.
She started the day with a three-shot lead. She lost a shot with a bogey at 1, but was “fine” with that because there were 17 holes to play. She bounced right back with a birdie on 2 and played bogey-free the rest of the round with five birdies.
She made the turn with a six-shot lead, but McKie, the first-round leader, tightened it up with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12, but Burks steadily pulled away picking up shots on five of her last six holes and two on 18 after nearly holing out from 85 yards.
The back-to-back birdies had McKie feeling good about herself, but she tried to keep from getting too excited. The closing run started when Burks made a 30-foot birdie on 13 and McKie’s birdie putt from a similar line slightly closer came up one roll short.
Burks also birdied 15 and 18 coming home, while McKie had bogeys at 14, 17 and 18.
“I just was playing my game,” Burks said. “If somebody’s playing a good round there’s nothing you can do about it.  That’s what you want in golf; you want good rounds. I just stuck to my game plan.
“I knew at some point I would have putts drop and if not that’s OK as long as I kept giving myself opportunities. That’s what I did coming down the stretch. I kept giving myself opportunities and luckily a few of them dropped.”
Linda Jeffrey of Prattville won the Tournament Division with an even-par 216.
To see a gallery of B.J. Franklin photos from the final round click on this link: www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Championship Division
Sophie Burks, Tallassee 75-71-68—214
Carson McKie, Hoover 74-78-72—224
Anna Claire Little, Auburn 78-75-76—229
Layne Dyar, Anniston 76-73-80—229
Ally Williams, Athens 80-80-75—235
Chloe Borders, Jacksonville 75-83-81—239
Susan West, Tuscaloosa 77-84-78—239
Julie Baker, Hoover 84-78-78—240
Hanna Dyar, Anniston 81-81-79—241
Maria Donado, Homewood 76-78-88—242
Mary Trammell, Mountain Brook 82-76-84—242
Stephenie Fowler, Vestavia Hills 78-81-85—244
Theresa Mahlik, Madison 85-83-78—246
Madilyn Turner, Jacksonville 95-81-81—257
Lindsey Oxley, Helena 86-89-92—267
Lindsey Gordon, Sylacauga 93-95-109—297
Stacy Quilling, Birmingham 43-43—86-WD
Tournament Division
Linda Jeffery, Prattville 69-75-72—216
Chris Spivey, Pell City 79-82-72—233
Kyung-Hwa Theodoss, Hampton Cove 89-91-88—268
Baylie Webb, Anniston 90-91-89—270
Abby Gattis, Jacksonville 97-86-88—271
Isabel Rogers, Anniston 101-106-91—298
Keri Rutledge, Birmingham 102-107-97—306

Anniston’s Layne Dyar pitches her ball back onto the 18th green Thursday. Dyar finished tied for third. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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