Gina Milazzo cooled off the competition to win her third consecutive Section 9 golf championship on Wednesday, but only after icing her hand for the past week.
Milazzo followed an opening-round 79 on Tuesday with an even better 74 on the second day of play at Apple Greens Golf Course in Highland. She had four birdies going out in the final round, finished 11 over par and ended up beating runner-up and friend Isabella Ok of Goshen by eight strokes.
“I was actually out there playing with a broken finger,’’ Milazzo said. “Considering that, I’m pretty happy with the way I played.’’
Milazzo, a Warwick junior, was in gym class last Thursday when she fractured the ring finger on her left hand playing basketball. “As soon as it happened, I was like, ‘Oh no, sections is in five days,’ and I was super nervous about it.’’ Ice packs became her constant companion and she was unable to even practice chip shots for the first three days before taking full swings on Monday.
“So I definitely wasn’t sure how this tournament was going to go, considering that, but I got lucky,’’ she said.
Milazzo said the pain was “pretty tough’’ following a first round where she took a four-shot lead over Ok and Newburgh’s Reagan Roth. “It was pretty stiff (Wednesday) morning,’’ she said. “It took me a while to start getting it to bend a little bit.’’
The pain was something to be overcome mentally, she said.
“It was a little difficult because my grip didn’t feel normal,’’ she said. “But once I got over the fact that it was going to hurt I just had to accept it and just try to play golf how I know how to play.’’
Reading the greens well and a sound putting game gave Milazzo a solid start to Wednesday and extended the lead. By the turn, she felt she had the title in hand.
“I’m super excited about this one,’’ Milazzo said.
The nine-member Section 9 team headed to states will have a familiar feel – six of the qualifiers also did so in 2022: Milazzo; Ok; Roth; Cornwall’s Noemi Krizso; Rondout Valley’s Alexandra Young; and, Tri-Valley’s Kaylee Poppo. The three newcomers are Leah Sheerin of Monroe-Woodbury, Alexa Trapani of Marlboro and Sarah Samuelson of Valley Central. Milazzo – who said she didn’t play well at 2022 states – and Ok finished tied for 20th place a year ago.
Section 9 tournament
Top 9 head to state tournament: 1. Gina Milazzo (Warwick) 79-74–153; 2. Isabella Ok (Goshen) 83-78–161; 3. Noemi Krizso (Cornwall) 87-80–167; 4. Alexandra Young (Rondout Valley) 86-83–169; 5. Reagan Roth (Newburgh) 83-89–172; 6. Leah Sheerin (Monroe-Woodbury) 88-88–176; 7. Kaylee Poppo (Tri-Valley) 92-91–183; 8. Alexa Trapani (Marlboro) 96-87–183; 9. Sarah Samuelson (Valley Central) 99-91–190; 10. (first alternate) Madison Paddock (Rondout Valley) 97-99—196; 11. Lorenza Brennie (Warwick) 95-101–196; 12. Jillian Disy (Warwick) 107-103–210; 13. Jillian Pucci (Goshen) 107-102–209; 14. Christina Lettre (Kingston) 107-110–217; 15. Lucienne Leonard (Onteora) 104-103–207; 16. Grace Cirulli (Port Jervis) 110-115–225; 17. Sierra Wiser (Highland) 106-120-226; 18. Alexa Milazzo (Warwick) 108-119—227
Did not advance from Tuesday: Carly Vacca (Monroe-Woodbury) 102; Rachel Williams (Onteora) 112; Leila Ohkawa (Kingston) 113; Abigail Davis (Washingtonville) 114; Gwen Benninger (Marlboro) 114; Faith Welsh (Monroe-Woodbury) 117; Paige Fischer (Washingtonville) 118; Anushree Buroghain (Monroe-Woodbury) 119; Kylie VanZandt (Highland) 119; Grace Coonrod (Rondout Valley) 121; Caroline Pethic (Red Hook) 123; Tea Proia (Monroe-Woodbury) 124; Emma Gumaer (Kingston) 126; Shannon Cahill (Minisink Valley) 130; Katie Reed (Port Jervis) 137; ANgelina Cavallaro (Middletown) 140; Leah Olaifa (Middletown) 150.