Hilton Head High's golf team came up one stroke short of winning the Class 3-A state championship on Tuesday. While disappointing, it was an impressive effort, considering the Seahawks placed fourth at Lower State the week before.
The biggest reason for the strong finish was the play of Jackie Budidharma. The freshman fired a 77 in Monday's first round followed by a 76 on Tuesday to finish in fifth place overall with a 153, earning all-state honors.
Budidharma took a few minutes to speak with The Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet about the state tournament, the future of Hilton Head High golf and the way people love to butcher the spelling of her last name.
Q: It had to be disappointing to come so close to winning state as a team. How are you guys dealing with that?
A: It was kind of sad that we lost by one stroke but we figure next year we can come back and try to get the title.
Q: Your team finished fifth last year. Was second better or did coming so close make it feel worse?
A: It felt worse because we were just one stroke behind. Personally, there we so many strokes that I knew I could have fixed. I could have gotten that one stroke back.
Q: It was Rawn Grant's first year as head coach. What kind of grade would you give him?
A: I think he did a really good job. It was the best season we've had so far. He offered us a lot of new tournaments that we hadn't played before and coached us really well.
Q: How big of a role did swing coach Scott Schoiack play on the team?
A: He played a really big role, at least for me. He fixed me when I was doing really bad and really helped us all through the season.
Q: Your team had to play through some rain up there but your scores weren't higher than usual. Coach Grant said you like to play in the rain. Would you agree with that?
A: It's not really enjoyable but I don't really lose my focus in the rain. It's not that bad for me. Maybe it makes me focus more on getting the shot right when it's raining. I'm not sure, really.
Q: You were a strong player all season but really turned in on there at the end at Lower State and state. What do you attribute that to?
A: I normally play third position on my team, but because I shot a lower score in the state qualifier, they placed me at the No. 1 spot for states. I was just trying to keep up with the other players in my group. I was playing with people like Collins Bradshaw (A.C. Flora), who is the No. 1 player in the state. I felt kind of intimidated at first but then I got used to it.
Q: Who else was in that group with you?
A: Mary Chandler Bryan (Chapin) and Samantha Buchanan (Bluffton).
Q: You're just a freshman. You mentioned Buchanan. Strom Thurmond's McKenzie Talbert is just a sophomore. There seems to be a lot of young, talented female golfers in the state right now. Why do you think that is?
A: We all started at a young age and are trying to do our best to get into college.
Q: Would you say there was a leader on your team or was it just a group effort from the players?
A: It's a group effort. We're all around the same level -- we have our good days and we have our bad days.
Q: Samantha O'Donnell is the only golfer that will graduate from the team. Do you expect to compete for a state championship again next season?
A: I think we do have a chance because most of our players right now can shoot in the 70s. Next year, all we can do is get better.
Q: On average, how much time per week do you spend working on your golf game?
A: Probably four to five days a week, maybe for like two hours. For high school, we practice at Moss Creek Golf Club. On the weekends, I sometimes practice at the Golden Bear.
Q: Do you play a lot of the area courses? If so, which ones are your favorites?
A: Yes, mostly on the weekends though. Off-island, I play at Moss Creek a lot. On-island, I play places like Country Club of Hilton Head.
Q: When did you start playing seriously?
A: Eleven I think. Eleven or 12 years old, when I started playing outside tournaments like the SCGA tournaments and stuff like that. I was playing in the local HHIJGA run by Mr. (Larry) Kellogg and I started to do a lot better in golf. I figured I might as well make it my main sport and take it seriously.
Q: Do you watch golf on TV or do you just play the sport?
A: I watch it. I can always learn from watching the pros.
Q: Who is your favorite golfer and why?
A: Probably Rickie Fowler. He started at a young age and has already made it on the PGA Tour.
Q: For females, do you feel the popularity of the sport is growing?
A: Yeah, I do. There are a lot of young golfers starting up now, more than there were before. They can really do good in golf if they just stick with it.
Q: Now that your high school golf season is over, where do you go from here?
A: I try to still play some South Carolina tournaments now and then. I'm playing in the winter golf for the HHIJGA, it's kind of like local tournaments. That's pretty much it.
Q: I heard you also play softball. What positions do you play there?
A: Mainly right field or center field.
Q: Do you expect to play for the varsity team this year?
A: I'm not sure. I would be proud to play on JV or varsity, it doesn't really matter to me. I love softball. It's just a fun sport to play.
Q: I have a pretty easy last name in my opinion and people misspell it constantly. I can't imagine having a last name like you do. Do you just automatically spell it to anybody that asks?
A: Yeah, I have to spell it and pronounce it a lot. I'm used to it. People will say my first name and then start to pronounce my last name and I'll be like, "Oh, that's me."