City College's Lynn captures state high school golf crown

He's first African-American to win, birdieing last 4 holes

High Schools

October 29, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK - Wilbert Lynn III isn't one to brag. That's why no one should have considered it trash talk when the City College golfer made what sounded like a bold prediction yesterday in the final round of the state high school tournament.

As Lynn and North Carroll's Jon Walker prepared to drive at the 15th hole, Lynn realized he had done something unusual. He had lost track of how close he was to first place.

That's when Lynn made the statement that spoke volumes in the next hour. "I'm going to birdie out," he told Walker.

And he did just that. He reeled off four birdies to close his round, finishing by sinking a 10-foot putt for birdie that brought him back from a six-stroke deficit at the turn and gave him a one-shot win.

Lynn became the first Baltimore City and African-American golfer to win a state title, edging Dennis Kwon of Walter Johnson. City schools don't officially sponsor varsity golf, and Lynn and Nakeya Peay (Poly) became their first golfers to make the state tournament last year.

Lynn's victory at the University of Maryland overshadowed Stephanie Connelly's win on the girls' side - it was the Northeast golfer's third state title as she broke her own scoring record for a two-day tournament with a 144 total.

Kwon also appeared headed toward a scoring record after firing a 32 on the front nine and taking the six-shot lead. Lynn played well on his first nine holes, shooting 36, but Kwon's hot play left him far back.

Lynn, however, remained optimistic and vowed to keep fighting.

"I said to myself that I'll just keep trying to make birdies," Lynn said. "It's never done."

Kwon's triple bogey on the 10th hole cut the deficit in half and let Lynn begin his comeback. After Lynn made birdies on 15 through 17, he and Kwon were deadlocked heading into the final hole.

Both put their second shots onto the green on the par-4, 440-yard 18th hole, but Kwon's 30-foot putt for birdie from the fringe rolled about 3 feet to the right. Lynn then sank his 10-foot putt to win - except for one problem.

He didn't realize it at first. Kwon's congratulations, however, quickly made Lynn aware of what had happened.

"It's the first time I'd lost track," Lynn said with a smile. "I didn't [want] to know the score. It would have affected me a little."

With his 33 on the back nine, Lynn shot a 2-under-par 69 to finish at 2-under 140. Kwon shot 72 for 141.

"My putter kind of left me at the end," Kwon said.

Connelly entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Marlowe Boukis of Dulaney and a two-shot edge over Pikesville's Michelle Grilli.

But Connelly, who is headed to Ohio State to play golf, pulled away by shooting her second straight, even-par 72 to finish with a record of 144 - breaking the mark of 148 she set as a freshman - to give her a three-shot win over Grilli (3-over).

Boukis finished third at 5-over par.

The victory was especially sweet for Connelly, because her longtime goal had been to win four state titles. However, Christina Gonzalez of Great Mills upset her by a shot in last year's one-day state championship tournament.

Yesterday's win provided some redemption.

"This is much better than [that]," Connelly said with a smile. "I didn't think there was any extra pressure, and I was relaxed."

There was just one division for individual golfers, but team championships were decided in two classifications.

Churchill (608) won the Class 3A-4A competition, and Dulaney (632), Broadneck (633) and Severna Park (646) took fourth through sixth, respectively.

Parkside (655) captured the Class 1A-2A crown, ahead of Walkersville (666) and Pikesville (674).

But Lynn was the major story.

Shirley Williams runs the Baltimore City Golf Club and predicted at last year's tournament that Lynn would win this season. So his rally didn't surprise her.

"When the pressure's on, he's at his best," Williams said.

Lynn's back nine

Hole....Result....Hole....Result

10th....Par.........15th.....Birdie

11th....Par......16th....Birdie

12th....Bogey....17th...Birdie

13th....Par....18th....Birdie

14th....Par....Total....33

Hole Result 15th Birdie 16th Birdie 17th Birdie 18th Birdie Total 33

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