West claims record sixth straight Canon Cup

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PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Winless in her first three matches, Rachel Morris’ bittersweet junior golf finale was more bitter than sweet after two days at the AJGA’s Canon Cup. Even so, the three-time Canon Cup West Team selection was slated in the anchor girls singles match, one that would almost surely help break the 15-15 tie by day’s end at Old Sandwich Golf Club.

By mid-afternoon, Morris wasn’t the one to break the tie – she was the one that put the finishing touches on the West’s sixth-consecutive Canon Cup victory, defeating the East’s Karen Chung, 2 and 1, and marking the West’s final point in the 25.5-24.5 win.

“There was a lot of pressure,” said Morris, who will attend Southern Cal in the fall. “My heart was racing, but I wanted to do well for my teammates and for me.”

Standing on the par-3 17th tee with 7-iron in hand, Morris knew the West was leading, but didn’t know she could post the deciding point. She hit the green and, after Chung failed to get up-and-down, a two-putt par set off the unexpected celebration.

“You don't get into that type of situation a lot where all the pressure is on you,” Morris said. “But when you do, and you succeed, it feels really cool. To be able to step up, under pressure, is really awesome.”

The West improved to 12-8-1 all-time in the AJGA’s only team match play competition. The 20-player teams (10 boys and 10 girls) competed in four-ball and mixed foursome on Tuesday, and foursome and mixed four-ball on Wednesday before Thursday’s decisive singles matches.

The East sprinted to a 5-1 lead Tuesday, but the West responded by winning the session’s final four matches, setting the tone for the rest of the week. After that point, the score was tied on 13 more occasions and neither team led by more than two points until Thursday afternoon.

During the final day’s 20 singles matches, the West posted six straight points and turned a two-point deficit into a 23-19 lead, which proved to be the turning point of the tournament. With Ginger Howard’s 1-up victory over Kristen Park, the East tied the score one last time at 23.5 points, but victories by Preston Valder and Morris sent the Canon Cup west of the Mississippi River once again.

It is the fifth time in the Canon Cup’s 21-year history that the East-versus-West battle was decided by one point. And for the second year in a row, the West held off the East by a 25.5-24.5 margin.

“Having seen how closely we lost last year, and to see it again this year, it broke my heart,” said Kelly Shon, who was one of two players returning from last year’s East squad. 'I hope I helped the team as much as they helped me. I hope everyone takes the positive out of this tournament and we'll get over it.'