JOHNS CREEK -- Walking off of the No. 17 green, Bailey Tardy, Rinko Mitsunaga and Eunice Yi looked more like an easy-going Sunday morning threesome rather than the final pairing of a meaningful golf tournament.
Mitsunaga had just sunk a long putt for birdie on the par 3, bringing her back to within two strokes of the wire-to-wire tournament leader Tardy. To answer, Tardy sank an equally long par putt, refusing to allow Mitsunaga to climb within a stroke with the par 5 18th looming. The putt essentially sealed the medalist in the Georgia Girls Championship for Tardy. Tardy and Mitsunaga each parred No. 18, giving the former GAC golfer and two-time Daily Post golfer of the year a championship on her home Atlanta Athletic Club.
"It was really fun," Tardy said of her three days in the tournament. She was the only golfer to shoot under par all three rounds, setting the pace with a 4-under 68 the first day and solid 71s the following two rounds to finish the tournament at 6-under par.
"It's nice to shoot under par out here," Bailey said. "It was just fun. I had a lot of fun playing in this."
Tardy finished with six consecutive pars, but played the back nine 1-over par after taking bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 to follow consecutive birdies. Strangely, it was playing with Mitsunaga, who plays out of the Country Club of the South and attends Centennial High School, that kept Tardy calm.
"Me and Rinko are really good friends," Tardy said. "We were just chatting and laughing the whole time. It's easy to get over a bad shot when you are laughing the whole time."
A sizable gallery assembled at the No. 18 green to watch Tardy claim the championship on her home course that included parents, competitors, Atlanta Athletic Club members and University of Georgia head golf coach Josh Brewer. Rinko gave Tardy a two-armed hug after she sank her winning putt, more friendly than the standard one-shoulder embrace following the final hole.
Bailey, a Georgia commit even as a rising high school junior, last played in the Georgia Girls Championship two years ago and opted to play this year mostly because it was at her home course. She intended to be in the final group and had eyes on the big trophy from the start, but when she entered the final day with a two-shot lead over Mitsunaga, she knew the final round would be fun.
"I would have been frustrated if I had lost, but I knew I would lose to Rinko," she said. "I tried to play my game."
Evans' Yi, the other member of the final group, finished third at 6-over par, 12 strokes off the pace. Newnan's Annie Swords finished fourth at 10-over par and Norcross' Diane Lim, a Duluth golfer, finished tied for fifth.
Lim, who struggled in the first two days in the off-and-on rain, shot even-par for her final round, finally finding some comfort on the greens.
"I was definitely a lot happier about today," Lim said. "I finished strong, so that's OK."
Suwanee's Christina Yang, a rising sophomore at North Gwinnett, tied for 10th. Brookwood's Harmanprit Kaur tied for 16th with Peachtree Ridge golfer Jenny Li tied Norcross resident Gracie Henderson.