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HOT SPRINGS –– Galax handled harsh conditions and a devilish couple of pin placements to win its third straight Region C golf championship Monday at The Homestead’s Lower Cascades course.
Dealing with a wind-chill factor in the mid-20s and a hole location on No. 17 that would be right at home on any miniature golf layout, the Maroon Tide soldiered through with a four-man total of 322 to earn its fourth straight team berth in next week’s Group A state tournament.
The Tide’s team total was 26 shots off its championship score from a year ago and was the highest winning total since Floyd County took the title in 2001 with a 331 at Wolf Creek in Bastian, but Galax was still 16 strokes better than runner-up Graham, which also qualified as a team for the state tournament.
“Our score was much better than it looks,” said Galax coach Terry Snow. “We really messed up the last two holes. John Bryant was 1-under par and Matt Downey was 1-over on the last two but everyone else double- and triple-bogeyed the last two.”
Snow said he thought the Devil himself must have picked the pin placement on No. 17.
“I stood there and watched probably a dozen groups come through, and I saw one six-putt and two five-putts,” he said. “Amanda Hollandsworth [of Floyd County] five-putted it, and she’s one of the best putters in this end of the state. It was on a little knoll and if you didn’t get it there it would come back to you, and above the hole, there was no way of stopping it if you missed.”
The Maroon Tide’s John Bryant finished second in the individual standings with a 76, eight shots off the uncanny pace set by Zeke Shaffer of Radford.
“Zeke was by far the best up there that day,” Snow said. “I saw him play four or five holes and he just putted the eyes out of it. He just stuck it close and made his putts. I don’t know how many one-putts he had, but I saw him make three.”
The Homestead hosted the event for the first time since 2003, when Snow watched his son Pace claim the individual title with a 73, leading Galax to a 314 and the team championship.
“After I saw two or three of the holes, I told [coach] Ron [Ferguson] – and we couldn’t do without Ron – I told him that 320 would be a good score up here, and we shot a 322. The last two holes probably cost us six or seven strokes.”
Eddie Hanks was second among Galax golfers with an 80, Downey turned in an 81 and Jon Alouf settled for an 83 after a hot start to his back nine.
“Jon started off like gangbusters on the back nine,” Snow said. “He had a couple of birdies, made a nice par, but the last three holes killed his score. An 83 wasn’t a bad score, but until the last three holes he was looking at a 77 or 78.”
Galax will seek to extend Region C’s reign of dominance at the state level when it tees off Monday at Heritage Oaks in Harrisonburg. Region C teams have claimed the last five state titles and nine of the last 11. Galax has two state championships and a runner-up finish the last three years. That experience is priceless.
“I was talking to the Graham coach and I said that it is a different animal at this level,” Snow said. “And if you come out of [regionals] and go to state, it’s a totally different animal there, too. It’s mental toughness. Everybody is going to hit bad shots. It’s how they react that will make the difference. I’ve got a team that will have been there or four years.
“They know what they have to do. As far as the coaching, it’s over with. Just get ‘em there and make sure they don’t horseplay around and break an ankle, playing touch football in the parking lot or something.”
The team played Heritage Oaks before the start of school, hauled up I-81 and back by parents.
“Love those parents,” Snow said.
The team will travel to Harrisonburg for a practice round Sunday with the two-day tournament starting at 8 a.m. Monday.
“I like our chances,” said Snow. “We’ve got some really solid golfers. We only had one score in the 70s at regionals, but if we get three scores in the 70s both days, which I think we should, I think we’ve got a real good chance. If we play well and somebody beats our score, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. If we go up there and shoot our 308, 310, I’d be happy with that.”
Region C tournament
Monday, The Homestead Lower Cascades, (par 72)
Zeke Shaffer (Radford) 68
x-Galax (322) -- John Bryant 76, Matt Downey 81, Eddie Hanks 80, Jon Alouf 83, Travis Cockerham 89, Ben Hill 91.
xx-Graham (338) - Morgan Brewster 80, Ben Taylor 85, Andrew Day 86, Ben Ramsey 87, Zach Toohey 88, Brad Yost 93.
Parry McCluer (338) - Dylan Buchanan 83, Christian Camden 84, Cody Buchanan 84, Keaton Loughhead 87, Trent Boatwright 92, J.D. Kerr 93.
Auburn (346) - Tanner Keen 80, Braxton Coleman 83, Paxton Clabaugh 90 Jerrett Schutte 93, Cody Akers 97, Marshall Jones 100.
Holston (355) - Conrad Thacker 81, Aaron Deel 86, Peyton Garrett 90, Evan Cole 98, T.J. Widner 101, Wes Roberts 104.
Glenvar (358) - Tyler Crockett 86, Austin Fox 90, Karlyn East 91, Jake Roberts 91, Zach Alls 95, Lauren Seiger 105.
James River (360) - y-Korey Watts 77, y-Luke Arney 79, Hunter Thompson 89, Sean Kessler 115, Mary Ware 116, Jonathan Lancenese 125.
Chilhowie (368) - y-Conner Hayden 79, Aaron Dunford 88, Jeb Sturgill 99, Dustin Creasy 102, Samuel McKenny 103, Dalton Bennett 104.
Covington - Meagan Lockhart 116, Josh Bush 125.
Floyd County - z-Amanda Hollandsworth 80, Robbie Whitlock 84.
Fort Chiswell - Jacob Odum 108, Josh Quesenberry 112.
Giles - y-Gunar Frazier 79, Kory Wilson 90, Kyle Chaffin 125.
Grayson County - Tucker Phipps 87, Gavin Bailey 100, Cole Davis 99, Jacob Vaughn 89.
George Wythe - Graham Dillon 94, Cody Branthoover 109.
Highland - Tyler Botkin 86, Joey Brendel 107, Christian Herber 118, Joseph Wagner 127.
Northwood - Austin Robbins 90, Justin Moore 98, Chaz Jones 105.
Radford - Zeke Shaffer 68.
Rural Retreat - Peyton Brewer 103.
x-Qualified as a team for Group A state tournament.
y-Qualified for Group A state tournament as an individual.
xx-Graham defeated Parry McCluer in playoff for second team spot in state tournament.
z-Hollandsworth (Floyd County) def. Keen (Auburn) on second playoff hole for final individual spot in state tournament.