District 5 Golf Tournament

Matt Forester of Glenelg plays a chip shot during the District 5 golf tournament at Fairway Hills on Oct. 14. (Sarah Pastrana, Patuxent Publishing / October 12, 2011)

As the ball disappeared into the cup, Centennial's Connor Flach allowed himself a fist pump.

For the first 17 holes of the District V Championship Oct. 14, the Eagles junior had stayed in the moment, careful to not get overly wrapped up in what was building toward the best round of his competitive career.

But when that final putt fell on the 18th hole at Fairway Hills to secure a two-under-par round of 68, Flach finally let the emotions take over.

"I knew with the way the course was playing, anything under par was going to be tough to beat, but I couldn't get ahead of myself. I couldn't worry about what everyone else was doing or what my lead was," said Flach, who had surged out in front with four birdies on his first seven holes.

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"I kept telling myself just keep making good swings and stick to the game plan … I didn't let myself celebrate until that last putt went in."

Flach's career-day helped him cruise to a comfortable four-shot victory over South River's Garret Sauls, who finished second with a round of 72.

He wasn't the county's only winner, though, as Atholton's Bryana Nguyen birdied her final hole to shoot an even-par 70 and hold off Arundel's Elyse Smidinger by a shot for the girls title.

In the 1A/2A team competition, Glenelg and Marriotts Ridge finished first and second, respectively, to each qualify for the state championship tournament at the University of Maryland Oct. 24-26. Glenelg (320 team total) will be making its first trip to states since 2008, while Marriotts Ridge (326) is headed back for the third straight year.

No county teams in the 3A/4A classification qualified. For complete results, see High School Wrap-Up.

On a day where the start of play was delayed three hours because of rain and winds gusted up to 30 mph, Flach was one of the few players undeterred by the elements.

He started his day with tap-in birdies on the first and third holes, sandwiched around a clutch par save on No. 2. The birdie on the par 3 third hole came after his tee shot came to rest an inch from the cup.

It was early, but he already had himself a two-shot lead on the field.

"Birdie on one and par on two is kind of what you hope for, but making a birdie on three was a bonus," Flach said. "All of a sudden you start thinking this could be a special round, because there are still a couple birdie holes right after that."

Flach kept things going with birdies on five and seven, combined with easy pars on four and six, to get to a tournament-best 4-under par.

The rest was history, as the Eagles' junior never trailed by less than two the remainder of the round. He did have a couple hiccups, three-putting for bogey on No. 8 and No. 14, but for the most part Flach was in complete control.

And for a guy who had posted three top five finishes in the high school postseason over the past two years without any victories, it was the kind of championship round he had been waiting for.

"I've been so close, knocking at the door a bunch of times, and it feels so good to break through," Flach said. "I'm really lucky to have such supportive parents and after every single tournament they've been like your time is coming … today it did."

Wilde Lake's Tyler Silberberg was the only other county boy to finish in the top five, shooting a round of 75 to finish alone in fifth. Thanks to three birdies on his front nine, he trailed Flach by only two at the turn. But he finished with two double bogeys on the back to fade from contention.

While Flach never trailed in his championship run, Nguyen's road to the title had a few more twists and turns.

Through seven holes Friday, she trailed Marriotts Ridge's Rachel Lee by two and Smidinger by one. However, it was what happened over the ensuing four holes that changed the tournament.