Matanzas High School golfer Alexandra Gazzoli had her clubs. Coach Brandie Alred had a bag of marshmallows. That turned out to be the winning combination at the Class 2A state girls golf championships.
In her third trip to state, Gazzoli shot 2-under par 140 to win the individual title at the two-day tournament, Nov. 15-16 at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.
"It feels pretty good. I wish we could have gone as a team, but I'm glad that I was able to go. Yeah, I'm really happy."
— ALEXANDRA GAZZOLI
"It feels pretty good," the junior said a day after winning the championship. "I wish we could have gone as a team, but I'm glad that I was able to go. Yeah, I'm really happy."
Seabreeze junior Amelia Cobb tied for third place individually and led the Sandcrabs to a third-place team finish. Plantation American Heritage won the championship for the third consecutive year. Ponte Vedra was second.
Cobb, who also finished third last year, shot 72-72—144. She had four birdies over a six-hole stretch on the front nine during day 2.
"I think Amelia had a little more confidence coming into the tournament this year," Seabreeze girls golf coach Cory Flickinger said. "Her goal was to win it. She was happy with the results, but she has high hopes to win it next year."
The Sandcrabs shot 657 as a team with sophomore Riley Fletcher (76-77—153) finishing 12th, senior Hannah Ashton (85-84—169) tied for 39th and freshman Taylor Dytkowski (96, 96—192) 72nd.
Gazzoli placed in the top three for the third year in a row. As a freshman, she placed third. Last year, she was the runner-up. She shot 68-72 this year to win by one stroke over American Heritage's Katherine Schaefer.
Gazzoli led by three strokes after the first day when she hit 17 greens in regulation and made three birdies. On day 2, she was 3-under after 11 holes and then ran into trouble on the par-4 12th hole. She hit her tee shot into the palmettos, took an unplayable lie and wound up with a triple bogey.
"She didn't have a good line," Alred said. "She just had to punch it out. Then she missed the green and hit into the bunker."
Gazzoli said she can't remember the last time she had a triple bogey.
"In a tournament, I know I've done it, obviously, but I can't really remember. It was kind of just a weird hole in general. It shocked me."
Alred knew exactly what to do. She fed Gazzoli marshmallows.
"I bribed her with marshmallows for every birdie. After (the triple bogey) I gave her two marshmallows. I changed the conversation to calm her down. She came back and parred the next hole. She kept it together. Alexandra is one of the most competitive people I know."
— BRANDIE ALRED, Matanzas girls golf coach
"I bribed her with marshmallows for every birdie," the Matanzas girls golf coach said. "After that hole, I gave her two marshmallows. I changed the conversation to calm her down. I said, 'look, nobody tended the flag (on the green).' She came back and parred the next hole. She kept it together. Alexandra is one of the most competitive people I know."
Gazzoli bogeyed No. 17 and made par on 18. Schaefer, who played three holes behind Gazzoli, was one stroke back going into her final hole. Gazzoli and Alred played cards and kept refreshing the live scoring app while they waited for Schaefer to finish. The American Heritage junior made par on No. 18 to finish a stroke back.
"Alexandra is Alexandra," Alred said of the tournament-tested golfer who rarely gets excited. "But she did have a big smile on her face."
"It was a little suspenseful," Gazzoli said of the wait. "But I had a good feeling. It was disappointing the way I finished, because I was 3 under through 11 and then I tripled, and I was like, 'Oh, my.' They changed (No. 12) from a par 5 to a 4. And the funny thing is, I birdied it the first day, so it wasn't like I had any problems with it. It was a bad drive. I mean, let's just say if I parred the hole, I would have been 5-under overall."
Gazzoli will take a break until the SALLY tournament (South Atlantic Women's Amateur Championship) Jan. 4-7 at Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach. She said she'll pin the state championship medal in front of all her other medals on the corkboard in her room.
"I'm glad that I was able to (win) it, and hopefully I can do it again next year," she said. "So that's kind of what I'm looking forward to now."