Maumelle’s Taylor Loeb said regardless of the outcome in the inaugural Arkansas Women’s Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship last week, if she played her best, she would be happy.
Her best turned out to be good enough.
Loeb, 16, held off her good friend Hannah Bakalekos of Sherwood, 2 and 1, in the final match at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock.
"I have some goals set that I want to accomplish, and with it being the first year for the AWGA to have juniors, I thought it’d be really cool to win because my name’s going to be on that trophy," said Loeb, a rising junior at Mount St. Mary who won the Class 7A State Tournament for the Belles last fall.
She stressed her friendship with Bakalekos, who will be a sophomore at North Little Rock.
"We stuck right there with each other," Loeb said of the final match. "We had played in the Tri-States two weeks before, and we were partners for alternate shot and best ball. My mom said then, ‘It’s going to be a really good match when you and Hannah play against each other one day.’"
It happened quicker than they’d expected, but a win on the first hole Friday allowed Loeb a cushion, she said.
"I wish both of us could win," she said. "I love playing match play. It’s totally different — anything can happen. You don’t really have to worry about anyone else, just the person you’re playing."
Lauren Loeb, Taylor’s younger sister, was the first flight consolation winner.
Taylor Loeb said she would have a busy schedule this summer, playing both in and out of state, including at least three American Junior Golf Association events.
"It’s non-stop, but I love it," she said.
Junior Tri-States team
Taylor Loeb, Bakalekos and Katelyn Dunstan of Maumelle were among the eight-player team representing Arkansas recently in the Junior Tri-States competition against Louisiana and Mississippi.
Arkansas finished second to Louisiana by 1.5 points at Mystic Creek in El Dorado.
"Their team was stacked, but Arkansas did amazing," Loeb said. "I love being on a team. It’s like the best feeling. You want to do good, but then you go watch your teammates and cheer them on. You don’t get to do that often."
Rounding out the Arkansas team were Casey Ott of Conway, Marlena Weatherly of Cabot, Peyton Weaver of Benton, Olivia Loiacano of Jonesboro and Stephanie Leake of Little Rock.
Burns Park junior results
Maumelle’s Allie Weiner was the best local finisher in last week’s Burns Park Junior Stroke Golf Championship.
Weiner shot 80-80—160, five strokes behind Hanna Brauburger of Bella Vista (76-79—155) in the girls division. Christian Barnett of Camden was second with 83-75—158; Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City finished third with 84-75—159.
Hayden Lassiter of Hermitage won the boys division with 71-72—143, followed by Carter Cloe of Conway, 72-73—145; Bradley White of Little Rock, 72-75—147; and Grayson Martin of Little Rock and Taylor Harvey of Little Rock (73-75—148 and 70-78—148, respectively).
The tournament, sponsored by the Greater Little Rock Optimist Club, was the 26th annual.