Macey Brown will have some Apollo High School company when she returns to Bowling Green for the KHSAA Girls State Golf Tournament starting Tuesday.

Brown won the 2020 individual state championship in a playoff, and she will return to Bowling Green Country Club to try for a second straight title starting Tuesday.

That Brown already has one state crown helped take some of the pressure off this event for the senior.

“I’ve already gotten a state championship,” Brown said. “Obviously I want to do it again, but nobody can take that away from me and I think it’s good to go in as calm, it’s just another tournament, and don’t think about it as ‘oh, this is the state championship I got last year’ because it’s not going to be easy to win it again.

“I’m still going to have to play good, still going to have to play like me. I’m excited, it’s the last one.”

Sophomore Mary Ann Lyons and eighth-grader Claire Reynolds also qualified for the state tournament with their finishes in the 2nd Region Tournament on Monday at Madisonville Country Club.

Apollo didn’t have a fourth player for a regulation team, but this group has the camaraderie down.

Brown is happy to have teammates going with her.

“It’s always just been me, it’s good to have a ‘team’ with me, especially my senior year,” Brown said. “It’s my people that I practice with every day.”

Apollo coach Jarrod Carter could see the benefits of Apollo having more of a team feel for this state tournament trip.

“They do enjoy the team aspect of it, being together, I really liked seeing regionals, how they celebrated all three of them going,” Carter said. “Even though it was on their own, they felt like they’d accomplished something. That was something I was glad to see Macey get a small part of.”

Brown shot 81, which was six shots back of 2nd Region medalist Kaitlyn Zieba of Madisonville-North Hopkins.

Brown knew she had a tough day.

“Macey, she had put a lot of pressure on herself, she felt like there was a big expectation on her shoulders,” Carter said. “We talked afterwards, I told her golf is so different. Some people play good in the rain, some play good in the sunshine, they change golf courses.

“There’s a reason why PGA players don’t win back to back weeks. Everything just changes, somebody catches fire, somebody has mental breakdowns.

“She had a bad day, that’s just what it was. It’s OK to have bad days. The lesson for her to learn is just fighting through some of those mental battles you have on the golf course.”

Brown feels at home playing the Bowling Green Country Club golf course, and that should help her a lot, along with the familiarity of having played in the state tournament several times.

“Two things with Macey, she loves two-day tournaments and she loves Bowling Green Country Club,” Carter said. “Madisonville doesn’t fit her eye, and for a golfer that can play tricks on you. Then you go to Bowling Green, and it’s like ‘I’m in love with this golf course, I can see it.’ Even though it’s tighter, the greens are faster, it’s a little more challenging, but it fits her eye better, which makes it easier for her.”

Brown tied for third in the KGCA All State tournament three weeks ago in Lexington. That tournament is considered a good warmup for the State Tournament.

Brown knows what kind of mindset she has to take across the two days at BG.

“It’s good, the past four years I’ve played at that level of competition, and it’s good to know the best girls in the state are going to be there,” Brown said. “You have to be on your A game. You have to be able to play good and you have to be able to stay focused.”

Lyons is a sophomore who qualified for state last year, but didn’t get to the second day. She shot an 82 at regional. Reynolds shot 89.

“I felt more relaxed, usually when I’m more relaxed I tend to play better,” Lyons said of regional. “I’m like, just hit the ball. I can just think, there’s a ball right there, hit it.”

Reynolds also had a relaxed approach to the regional tournament.

“I just couldn’t make a putt,” Reynolds said.

She is looking forward to having some teammates at the state tournament.

“It will be good to have other people to talk to, to rely on a little bit,” Reynolds said. “I want to go and have fun.”

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