By Dwayne Wilder, for Herald Democrat
POTTSBORO – If a third time is magic, it aligns with Alli Reily’s goal to end her brilliant career in Pottsboro.
“I want to win,” Riley said of competing in the state golf tournament for the third and final time. “I was one stroke away last year.”
Riley will attempt to finish the singles championship after a pair have finished in the previous top five. She was the runner-up in Class 3A last spring and the fifth as a freshman. The only year she didn’t participate in the state was when her sophomore year was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s 3A Championships takes place on Mondays and Tuesdays at Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin.
“It feels really good to be a senior,” Riley said. It’s a privilege and a blessing.”
After repeating as the Region II champion – her third regional crown – in late April, Riley has been preparing with interest for these last two rounds.
“I was working on my short game, my drive, and the iron,” she said. “I want to make birdsong and put a score on the board.”
It could be argued that since she finished one stroke behind Katie Hart at Chapel Hill to win the silver a year ago, there has been a long-range focus on Riley’s senior year.
“I put her in various tournaments in the Metroplex against some 5A and 6A golfers,” said PHS golf coach Joe Barnett. “It was good for her to see this level of competition; I really challenged her this year. It was good for her.”
Riley appreciated the additional auditions throughout the spring to help sharpen her game.
“I’m glad he did it; I learned to play under pressure and know what it is like,” she said. “It was very helpful. He helped me prepare for this third attempt.”
Riley, who signed to play for Midwestern State University, won the area title again, by a whopping 20 strokes, and then took the area title by six shots — expanding her first-round lead by five over the last 18 holes.
“In that tournament, Alli played the best I’ve ever seen playing in the ninth line,” Barnett said. “It ended strong that second day.”
Riley will need to be strong on both days next week to achieve her ultimate goal – especially since Hart is back to defend her gold medal.
“Alli is ready for this. She usually has five pages of notes after every practice round on the golf course,” Barnett said. “You’ll know what you need every round as you go; I believe in it.”
Riley is enjoying what she’s getting out of Sunday’s practice run.
“I’m going to jot down some notes; and work on my short game on the greens.” “I will learn how to play the course. I will see where the missing can be; where I need to put the ball and how to work on the greens. It will be a challenge, but I am ready for it.”