Leavittsburg-native Harford wins on 50-foot putt

Two frustrating misses led to one unforgettable moment for Haylee Harford at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior tournament on Friday.

First, after eight pars on the front nine, Harford got in a groove with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. Things got a little hairy on No. 13 with a bogey.

“Then it went downhill,” she said. “I had a bad drive to start No. 14 and couldn’t really get through the rest of the hole and I finished with an 8 (on the par 4).”

Harford, the reigning champion of this annual tournament held at Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland, Ky., led by one stroke over Kentucky-native Katie Page heading to No. 18.

Page pared the final hole and Harford overshot the green off the tee.

“All I was thinking about was getting a decent chip shot on the green,” Harford said, “and setting myself up for a 2-putt, and we’d go to a playoff.”

That didn’t happen. Instead, she barely got the chip on the fringe and a 50-foot putt remained.

“One of the girls asked if I wanted the pin to be pulled out,” Harford said. “I told her, ‘no,’ because I wasn’t really trying to make it.”

But she did. The long, winding putt broke to the right and Harford broke after it.

“It was pretty dramatic,” she said. “I started running and the crowd around the green was going nuts. I’ve never done anything like it. It was so amazing.”

The Leavittsburg native shot a 75 on Friday and finished with a 218 for the four-day competition. Last year, she tallied a winning score of 224, which also gave her the title by one stroke. In 2011, Harford finished in the top-10.

“I was pretty comfortable with the course after being down here a few times before,” she said.

Harford, a former Kennedy standout who won the Division II state title as a freshman will enter the fall semester as a junior at LaBrae. She’ll take next week off from tournaments before participating in an American Junior Golf Association qualifier in New York the week after. In two weeks, Harford will play in the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Lancaster, Pa.