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PA's Anna Kate Nichols, West Side Greers Ferry's Max Gipson secure overall golf state titles

Nichols won on her home course and Gipson had to break a three-way tie for the title

LITTLE ROCK — Max Gipson needed a playoff to break a three-way tie and Anna Kate Nichols closed her high-school career on her home course at the Arkansas High School Overall Tournament at Pleasant Valley Country Club on Thursday. 

Gipson, a junior form West Side Greers Ferry, who shot a 68, was tied with Jackson McLaughlin of Episcopal Collegiate and Adam Squires of Little Rock Catholic after 18 holes. The three went to the first hole (378-yard par 4) for the playoff. After all three missed the fairway to the right, all three missed the green on their second shot. Squires, from about six feet away, missed a par putt and was eliminated while McLaughlin and Gipson made their par putts to move on to the second hole.

Max Gipson of West Side Greers Ferry (Photo by Jeff Halpern)

Max Gipson of West Side Greers Ferry (Photo by Jeff Halpern)

On the second hole (182-yard par three), Gipson put his tee shot about six feet to the left of the pin while McLaughlin’s tee shot found the water. Taking the penalty stroke, McLaughlin finished with a five while Gipson made the birdie putt to win the playoff.

“This is unmatched, and it’s a dream day,” said Gipson. “To make that shot on the second hole in the playoff and pull it off was incredible.”

Gipson, credited his teaching professional Stan Lee, a legendary veteran amateur golfer, for helping him win the tournament. “We’ve been through the good and the bad, and he made some swing changes that helped me out. Today, was all mental which allowed me to play as well as I did,” said Gipson.

Nichols, a senior from Pulaski Academy, who plays at Pleasant Valley, called winning the overall tournament “bittersweet,” especially since this is her last high-school tournament.

She shot a 69, defeating Conway’s Yinyoe Yang by three strokes. Russellville’s Susanna Mans was third with a 76.

“I played pretty well out there,” said Nichols. “I had a rough stretch in the middle but starting making shots and making some birdies.”

Pulaski Academy's Anna Kate Nichols (Photo by Jeff Halpern)

Pulaski Academy's Anna Kate Nichols (Photo by Jeff Halpern)

Nichols, who was not in the same pairing as Yang, said she knew Yang was 1-under after nine holes, but didn’t know Yang shot a 72 until she came off the course. She had a stretch where she was missing greens and three-putted a hole before posting birdies on holes 12-16 before closing with pars on 17 and 18.

As someone who plays at Pleasant Valley constantly, Nichols said she had a good understanding for how the course was going to play. “This is the only tournament in high school we get to play here,” said Nichols. “It’s awesome to close out my career like this.”