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Three titles would still be nice for Stackhouse

Special photo
North Clayton senior Mariah Stackhouse has signed with Stanford and competed in the U.S. Women’s Open, but is looking for her third state championship Monday at Bartram Trails Golf Club in Augusta.

Special photo North Clayton senior Mariah Stackhouse has signed with Stanford and competed in the U.S. Women’s Open, but is looking for her third state championship Monday at Bartram Trails Golf Club in Augusta.

Mariah Stackhouse could win her third individual golf Class AAAA championship Monday at Bartram Trail Golf Club in Augusta, but winning it might just make it harder.

See, this golf phenom came on to the high school scene and won the 2009 and 2010 championships as a freshman and sophomore as her national profile grew and grew.

When the state tournament came up last season, Stackhouse opted to play in an amateur event instead, leaving her to forever wonder what it might be like to go through a high school career and never lose a state championship.

So, a winning performance Monday could feel like a blessing and a curse.

“I’d be sad that I didn’t play last year,” Stackhouse said, “because then it would’ve been cool to win four.”

And yet, it seems Stackhouse returns more determined and focused than ever. She’s never played at Bartram Trails — the state tournament rotates venues every year — so she’ll travel to Augusta on Saturday, play a practice round on Sunday and make her attempt at another title.

“It’s something I’d like to win again,” she said. “It’d be a nice way to end my high school golf career.”

Winning the championship has never been easy, though. Stackhouse sweated out close wins both times — her 71 in 2010 was one stroke better than Katy Harris of Glynn Academy, and her 72 was just two strokes better than Lauren Giambastiani of Northwest Whitfield in 2009.

Each time, as Stackhouse walked off the 18th green, she didn’t expect to win.

“I actually thought I might not have won,” she said. “It’s shorter yardages, and I thought scores would be even lower. I thought I would have to be in the 60s to win.”

Stackhouse won’t be alone on the course this time. The North Clayton girl’s golf team qualified for state, finishing second in Region 4-AAAA, while the boy’s team — which includes her brother, John, a freshman — won the region championship.

“That will be fun,” Stackhouse said. “We get along really well.”

And there will be others from the Southern Crescent. On the boy’s side, Strong Rock’s Mitch Sutton, Union Grove’s Justin Connelly and Riverdale’s Joe Philaphet qualified for the tournament. On the girl’s side, Bre Laney of Eagle’s Landing Christian qualified individually, Lovejoy and Ola enter as region champions and Luella finished second in Region 2-AAAAA to qualify.

But all eyes will be on Stackhouse.

“I’d love to win state again, saying I won it three times,” Stackhouse said. “I’m hoping I’ll go out there and make the shots necessary. I’m really just hoping for a good round.”