AUSTIN — With one goal already accomplished, Meredith Ward just let it fly — right into the woods.
In a three-way playoff for second place individually, after the Lady Eagles had already secured their sixth state championship at the University Interscholastic League’s 2A state golf tournament at Roy Kizer Golf Course, Salado’s lone senior figured the worst.
But one by one, Howe’s Emily Taylor and Alpine’s Rashae Skillem each teed off into the hazard too, Taylor’s hooking farther left into the woods and Skillem’s into the lake to the right of the green.
“OK, there’s still hope,” Ward thought.
After a bad drop beneath a tree, Ward drilled her second shot onto the green, landing 15-20 feet beyond the cup. Her competition weren’t so lucky — both Taylor and Skillem found the water on their second shots.
From there, Ward cleaned up, two-putting for bogey on the par-4 No. 18. Taylor and Skillem double-bogeyed the hole.
“Bogey golf is always good, and I’ve always told myself that — (it’s) whatever it takes, and I’m not going to complain about winning it on a bogey,” said Ward, who claimed an individual silver medal to go along with her team gold with a two-day 156, shooting a 5-over-par 76 on Friday with six pars on the back nine.
The Salado girls won their program’s sixth Class 2A state championship and first since 2010 — when Ward carded an even 100 on the second day — with a two-day 719 (355-364) to finish 30 strokes ahead of state runner-up Sonora.
“We just wanted to continue what we did (Thursday) to get the lead in the first place,” first-year Salado girls coach Ty Brown said. “We just really wanted to continue the (state championship) tradition (golf coach Bobby Peschel) started a decade ago.”
Peschel plans to retire from coaching after 10 years leading both the Salado boys and girls golf teams to five total team championships — two with the boys and now three with the girls.
Along with Ward’s 156, Kate Goldsmith carded a 187 (92-95), Sarah Colley finished with a 188 (94-94), junior Rachel Ray shot 190 (89-101) and freshman Molly Rodeffer scored a second-day 99 and a two-day 199.
“Coming from (Salado), I knew the whole community had our backs, and to win for them and our families, it’s such a blessing,” Ward said.
Taylor took home the bronze after shooting a second-day low 3-over-par, winning on a second playoff hole over Skillem. East Bernard’s Kate Rimer, who was in Ward’s final group with Skillem, won gold with a 152 (77-75).
Ward had a chance to secure the silver on her first go-through on No. 18, finding the green on her approach, pointing to acknowledge the loud cheers from the large Salado collective gathered on the hill surrounding the hole.
But with a 6-foot downhill birdie opportunity, Ward’s putt rolled just right of the hole by a foot, as she finished with a two-putt par to set up the three-way playoff.
“(She created) a little drama,” Brown said with a laugh.
It was the Lady Eagles’ third straight individual playoff at state after Rachel VanHoozer and Taylor O’Rear lost in a first-place playoff in consecutive years in 2010-11.
“That was my first (playoff), and we’d already won as a team so I just wanted to go out there and have fun, make it a more enjoyable experience,” Ward said.
District 16-2A rival Cameron Yoe finished fifth as a team despite just four competitors, carding a two-day 771 as Brittany Brashear scored a two-day 184 (94-90), Megan Dohnalik carded a 185 (96-89), followed by a 194 (98-96) for Taylor Mathis and a 208 (99-109) for Elizabeth Williams.