Golf teams win District, prepare for Regional Tournament

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By Keith Sparks

Both the boys’ and girls’ golf teams finished first in district this week, thanks to stellar team play on both sides. The boys finished ahead of Burnet in second and Lampasas in third, and the girls finished ahead of Salado in second and Lampasas in third.

Junior Parker McCurdy finished with the lowest score of the tournament for the boys, thanks to an impressive second-day turnaround. After shooting an 84 on the first day of the tournament, McCurdy improved his score by 15 strokes, shooting a 69 on the second day for a total of 153 strokes. John Baker was second on the team with 161, Brian
Bousquet was third with 169, Donnie Harper was fourth with 171, Charlie Calabretta was fifth with 176, Matt Sterling was sixth with 184, and J. Paul Madison was seventh on the team with 215.

Head Boys’ Golf Coach Danny Knowles knew his team had the potential to win district before the season started, saying, “It was just a matter of whether they spent enough time on the golf course,” but admitted he wasn’t as confident after they struggled as a team on the first day of the tournament.

“The first day of district, we really didn’t look very good,” Knowles said. “We played pretty badly, but yesterday, we tore it up. Everybody upped their game, and just about everybody was down quite a few strokes. We had a kid go from 84 to 69. We had a kid go from 81 to 80, which was the only one without much change. We had a kid go from 89 to 82. We had a kid go from 93 to 83, so we saw lots of improvement.”

Both Knowles and Head Girls’ Golf Coach Ryan Revere attributed their district championships to playing better “team golf.”

“Playing for the team and getting everything you can out of a hole,” Knowles said of the reasoning behind their improvement. “Every shot matters, and they’re doing that quite well right now.”

Sophomore Cheryl Gauthier had the lowest score for the Panther girls, shooting a 164, overall, after shooting an 85 on day one and a 79 on day two. Arrianna Rocha and Mackenzy Turner tied for second on the team with scores of 166, Sarah Baker finished fourth with 186, and Jena Pina finished fifth on the team with 248.

Revere said one of the biggest reasons behind this year’s district championship was the addition of freshman Sarah Baker, who recently moved back to Liberty Hill, in addition to the marginal improvement of each of his returners.

“We got four that returned from last year, and I had three that were in scoring contention to finish in the top five, top 10 in most tournaments that we go to, but we needed that fourth,” Revere said. “In team golf, five players go, and you score the best four for your team totals for placing, and in early October, we had some people move back into Texas that had grown up here in the area, Sarah Baker and John Baker, and they both played golf… When I talked to their dad, I said, ‘Well, I’m coaching the girls right now, Coach Knowles is doing the boys, and I need a fifth in a desperate way. Has Sarah played in a while?’ He said, ‘Well, she played a lot when she was younger, hasn’t played in the last year, but she wants to,’ so I did all but beg. She came on and she’s played a better round each round. Her coming in and filling that fourth spot on the scoreboard, plus my three or four returners shaving off some strokes was the difference maker.”

Better team golf was the key for the girls, as well, which Revere said had a lot to do with the girls practicing together outside of school, which is tough to do when the team doesn’t have a home course.

“I had a good feeling with all my returners, but we just actually started playing what you call team golf,” Revere said. “They started going to the courses together. We don’t have a home course. Some of them live on the east side of town, some of them live on the west side of town, so they just go and hit balls wherever is closest. During the last couple weeks, they’ve gone and previewed the tournaments that we’re playing that following week, and it’s shown. They enjoy each other, and I think they want to play better for the other person. At their age, that’s a big difference maker. It’s an individual sport, but they all get to play it together.”

Next for the Panther golfers is the Regional Tournament, which will take place in Huntsville at Sam Houston State’s Raven Nest Golf Club. The boys will tee off on April 23 and 24, and the girls will follow on April 25 and 26 at the same location.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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