JOPLIN, Mo. — All five of Platte County’s players posted a better score on Day 2 of the Class 3 Missouri State Golf Championships.
With an improvement of a nearly combined 40 shots, the Pirates were hoping to make a jump of at least one spot in the team standings with a chance to bring home the first team trophy in school history. They shot a 780 total during the two-day event earlier this week at Twin Hills Golf & Country Club in Joplin but ended up in fifth out of seven teams, coming up agonizingly short of more history.
Still, Platte County seniors Mannon Bigus and Tori Sanders, junior Eden Shipp, sophomore Bailey Silcott and freshman Lily Ricketts became the first team in program history to reach state in Class 3 and changed the program’s outlook now and moving forward.
“Absolutely, this will be a driving factor with our team in the future,” Platte County coach Trevor Short said after the close call. “Losing two quality golfers (Bigus and Sanders) is going to be a hit, but we have three returning state qualifiers that gained some invaluable experience these last few days. I am sure that they will put even more effort into their offseason training and have that one shot in the back of their minds driving them to improve.”
Class 3 state champion Rockwood Summit (675) pulled away from the field, and St. Teresa’s Academy and Glendale were second and third, leaving the fourth spot up for grabs. Cor Jesu Academy entered the second day just two shots in front of Platte County, and with both teams showing big improvement in a rain-delayed round, Cor Jesu ended up with a 779.
Not long after the opening tee time for Tuesday’s second round, a deluge of rain arrived and led to an hour delay.
Platte County and Cor Jesu would end up neck and neck as scores were sporadically posted throughout the day. Almost unbelievably, Cor Jesu matched Platte County’s drastic improvement almost stroke for stroke.
“The plan going into Day 2 was to improve from our Day 1 scores and make a push to try and get the fourth-place trophy,” Short said. “It was a battle all day, and the ladies stayed in the fight until the very end. They never gave up and finished strong on Day 2 of the tournament. We waited anxiously as the final player for Cor Jesu finished her round and the scores were posted. It was a little bittersweet that we fell one shot shy of tying for fourth place, but the achievements that the team had this season were not taken away from them because of this one tournament.”
Indeed, Platte County benefited from a new postseason that increased the number of classifications from two to four and allowed individuals to qualify directly from districts. However, with no automatic team qualifiers, the Pirates’ five players all qualified in the top 18, including ties, out of Class 3 District 4 to earn the first state team berth since since back-to-back appearances in Class 1 in 2002 and 2003.
Platte County finished 11th in 2002 and 10th in 2003.
Shipp led the way and set a new program record for low score in a tournament with an 11-over 83 on Day 2 to finish with a 181 — good enough for a tie at 21st. Her 15-shot improvement put her just six places out of all-state consideration in her first state appearance.
The new 18-hole record broke the record of Kasydie Shipp by one stroke, and incidentally, the older sister drove over from nearby Bolivar where she plays golf for Southwest Baptist University to witness the milestone round. Shipp’s final round featured a birdie on No. 6 — a 422-yard par 5 — while she had pars on Nos. 2, 5, 13, 14, 16 and 17.
Shipp only had two double bogeys or worse in her final round after carding nine of those holes Monday.
“She just got in the zone and was able to put her shots in good positions to give her an opportunity to score,” Short said. “There wasn’t a lot said between us during the round. Mainly, it was a look, and when she has the look, I just give her the head nod and stay away.”
The rest of Platte County’s team placed between 42nd and 68th.
Silcott, the team’s top finisher at districts a week earlier, shaved six shots off her Day 1 score and carded a 95 in the second round to tie for 42nd. Her two-day total was 196, and she carded three pars on her second day.
“I played way better than yesterday; I feel a lot better about it,” Silcott said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be; it is a real pleasure to be here. You feel good to play with all these different girls.”
While Shipp and Silcott were sectional qualifiers a year ago and missed advancing past that round, Bigus, Sanders and Ricketts were all playing past districts at Platte County for the first time.
Bigus suffered through nervous moments at Class 3 District 4 before claiming one of the final spots, and she shot 97-100—197 and tied for 44th in her final competition for the Pirates.
Sanders shot 206 and tied for 55th, carding a 96 on the second day – a four-shot improvement. She opened with a 51 on the front nine, which also featured a birdie at No. 2, a 338-yard par 4.
Ricketts was the surprise qualifier in a fifth spot for Platte County that featured multiple players throughout the season. She shot 239 and tied for 68th place. She was one stroke better on Tuesday than her opening round.
Platte County’s historic 2020 season included a sixth straight Suburban Conference Blue Division title and a second-place finish at Class 3 District 4 behind St. Teresa’s Academy. State was an unknown for a program that hadn’t had more than two state qualifiers since 2006, but now, the target for future teams has been shifted.
“None of the team had been to state golf before so it was a new experience for everyone,” Short said. “We actually were in the right state of mind going into the tournament. We talked a lot during the days leading up to the tournament about us accomplishing what we set out to do and now everything else was an added bonus. We just wanted to go play golf on the biggest stage and see how things turned out.”