Bishop girls link fun with skill to earn first state golf tournament

Christine Ronco moved to the Lowcountry from Maine in 2007 to play golf, meet new people and enjoy the sunshine for more than three months of the year. Little did she know that her to-do list would grow to include coaching a girls’ golf team that would win a state championship. The Bishops recently claimed the Class AA state title with a 688-720 decision over St. Joseph’s. The state championship was held at the Black Bear Golf Course in Longs. Powdersville, Pendleton and Aynor rounded out the top five in team scoring. Bishop England opened the two-day tourney with a 348 that gave the Bishops a 13-stroke lead. The Bishops were in cruise control on Day 2 to win the first state championship in the program’s brief history. The way Ronco talked, the biggest opponent heading into the championship was nerves. But Ronco’s mantra is to just have fun. She was able to get her team to relax and the championship trophy was their reward. The championship culminated a seven-year stretch where the school formed a club team and then made it a varsity sport. A golfer’s parent noticed Ronco’s profile on the school’s faculty page and approached her. The rest is history. “I’m not a pro,” Ronco said. “Golf is not my world. I went to school to become an English teacher and play golf for fun. That’s what I want my girls to do: have fun. I don’t want a girl to say that she doesn’t want to be part of the team because she doesn’t know how to play golf. I want them to come out and learn to play golf.” Kathleen Sumner, the Bishops’ top golfer, carded a 2-under par 142 to win medalist honors. The junior led from start to finish and posted a 6-stroke win over Carly Lyvers of St. Joseph’s. Sumner, a Florida State commit, led the entire 36 holes thanks to seven birdies. She shot a 72 on Day 1 and put an exclamation point on her performance with a 2-under par 70. Freshman Kennedy Carroll finished fifth overall with a 158 while junior Emma Wofford placed sixth with a 163. Kellen Haas finished 43rd overall and Rachel placed 64th. “Kathleen is amazing,” Ronco said. “She already has a scholarship to LSU, which is a great accomplishment. Kennedy is in the same place Kathleen was when she was a freshman. She is going places.” Wofford played well. She shot an 85 the first day and settled down to card a 78. “An 85, that’s not who she is,” Ronco said of Wofford. “After the first day, she felt she let the team down. I told her to have fun the next day. She was relaxed and played much better. “Winning the first state championship is huge,” Ronco said. “The girls know about all the state championship in other sports. They wanted to win one. Winning it is a huge accomplishment. They can be proud of that fact.”

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