Talbert in quest for fourth title

There's a very good reason no boy or girl in South Carolina has ever won four consecutive Class AAA-AA state titles. It's incredibly hard to do.

Strom Thurmond High School senior McKenzie Talbert came into this week's state championship being played at Coastal Carolina's Hackler Course looking to become the first high school golfer to accomplish the feat. She's already the only girl form the Palmetto State to have won three consecutive individual titles and was looking to add to her substantial legacy.

It didn't work out that way, as Talbert finished in fourth place in the 36-hole event that began on Monday. Her first-round 74 left her two strokes off the lead, and the Clemson commitment only lost ground in Tuesday's final round, carding a 78 that left her five strokes behind the winner - Wren's Cayla Smith.

Talbert's final round score didn't include any birdies, as she made bogey on three holes on the front and back nine of the par-72 course. For the tournament, Talbert made only two birdies compared to 10 bogeys.

Talbert qualified for the state championship by carding a 67 last week as an individual playing in the Lower State championship at The International Club in Murrells Inlet.

Previously, she won her first state title as a freshman with a two-day total of 139, good for a four-stroke victory at Quail Creek Golf Club, also in Conway. Her second title, also at Quail Creek, was a seven-stroke victory with a total score of 138. Last year's title came by the slimmest margin, as her 145 was only good enough for a two-stroke victory, again at Quail Creek.

This year's two-day total of 152 is the highest score in the state championship for the golfer who also finished in the top five of the event when she was as a seventh- and eighth-grader.

While there's disappointment in not winning a fourth girls' title, Talbert's high school golf career isn't. As in years past, Talbert will play on the Strom Thurmond boys' team in the spring. She's got another shot at making history as she'll try to become the first female golfer to win a Class AAA-AA state title in the boys' draw. Back in September, Talbert reflected on the challenges and significance of winning a boys' title.

"You know, that's something that's never been done and, maybe, never will be done," she said.