Jennifer Sorkin lined up a 12-foot birdie putt in what turned out to be the final stroke of her round Saturday at Oakmont Green Golf Course, where the Westminster High School junior and her Owls teammates were trying to add another Carroll County Athletic League title to their program’s resume.
Sorkin said she told playing partner Josh Popielski of Winters Mill the putt was going in, and she walked toward the cup, Tiger Woods style, to encourage the ball just before it disappeared from view. The satisfaction of finishing a solid round soon turned into anxiety and nerves, however.
Someone in the group thought Sorkin shot a 3-under par 69. Another person had her at 70. The official score came in at 71, with Sorkin’s hands shaking as she tried to tally up her own card.
Meanwhile, Westminster coach Jim Carpenter dealt with a churning stomach as he watched Sorkin finish her final hole, the par-4 5th, knowing the Carroll County tournament record for low individual was 72 but unwilling to let be known out loud.
The Owls calmed down and celebrated a team victory in the process with a four-player score of 320 to win their second tourney title in three seasons.
Sorkin carded five birdies, and bracketed her round with one on her first hole and one on her 18th. She also kept the gold medal in the family for another year ― older brother Aaron Sorkin, who won the 2019 tournament crown, finished third Saturday with a 75.
“I didn’t want to know where Aaron was at, because I don’t like knowing scores,” said Jennifer, who played in the group behind her brother. “I didn’t look at the record, actually. I went in with a goal of shooting in the 70s. ... My goal was 76, when I got here. My best round [for 18 holes] was 74. When I birdied the first hole that I played, that gave me a lot of confidence.”
South Carroll senior Nick Amateau finished second at 73, and Manchester Valley senior Logan Austin was the other county player to break 80 (79, fourth place). The Mavericks finished second as a team at 338, while the Cavaliers tied Century for third at 346.
This year’s county tournament did not determine the season’s overall champion just yet.
There are regular-season matches scheduled for next week that count toward the official standings. The formula to determine the CCAL winner is still two points for every “official” county win and then one point for each team beaten at the tourney.
Westminster has 12 points (six from the county tournament, and three from regular matches won so far), South Carroll has 9.5, and Manchester Valley has nine.
“We started out a little rough, but our scores have really improved,” said Carpenter, who guided the Owls to a sparkling 149 during a win over Winters Mill on Tuesday. “Everybody helps each other out.”
Aaron Sorkin came into the county tournament leading the county in nine-hole scoring average at 38.2, and Jennifer Sorkin was third (40). Freshman Riley Smith joined senior Nathan Leppo at 42.3.
Leppo placed sixth Saturday with an 83; Smith and senior Kevin McCartan each fired a 91 to pitch in with the team scoring.
Sorkin led them all, and said she couldn’t stop smiling throughout her round ― a rarity for her, since she’s usually focusing on course management and shot placement. Her hot start Saturday allowed for some relief along the way, she said.
“I try not to know my score as I play, and distract myself,” Sorkin said. “I do have a feeling, though. I’m making a lot of pars and it’s like, ‘OK, now I’m playing good.’”
1. Westminster 320, 2. Man Valley 338, 3. Century 346, 4. South Carroll 346, 5. Winters Mill 359, 6. Liberty 362, 7. Francis Scott Key 441