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Howard finishes in top 5 of region to qualify for state golf tournament
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Sophomore Will Howard qualified for the GHSA state golf tournament on May 1 with a round of 71 at the Highland Walk Golf Course. - Photo courtesy Michael Parker for the Dawson News

The Dawson County Tigers golf team took part in the 7-AAA Area tournament on May 1 at the Highland Walk golf course and, despite finishing in sixth-place in a field of 14 teams, just barely missed out on their spot in the upcoming state tournament.


Sophomore Will Howard led the Tigers with a one-under par 71, but unfortunately for Dawson County the team consisting of senior Jared Posey, juniors Denton Bailey and Campbell Reed, fellow sophomore Ty Whitmire and freshmen Christian Roper and Jalen Smith combined for a total of 358, putting them just outside of the cut for the next round.


The only tournament used to seed teams into the state tournament, the area tournament is an 18-hole event in which each team fields six golfers and combines the best four scores to determine the team’s overall score. To qualify for state, a team must finish both in the top six and post a score of under 340.


“As a coach, you always want your team to qualify for the state tournament, so there is some disappointment that we didn’t make it this year,” Head Coach Michael Parker said. “Nobody is more disappointed than our players. We felt like we had a shot, but golf is a difficult game physically and mentally.”


Although the team did not qualify, there was still a bright spot on the day as Howard’s 71 marked him as one of the top two finalists not already on a qualifying team, thus sending him to the state tournament as an individual golfer.


“(Howard) finished 5th overall out of 83 golfers at Area Tournament. The 4 that beat him were from Region 8-AAA,” Parker said. “If we had a region champ, he would have won it. Extremely impressive for a sophomore.”


The state tournament is a two-day, 36-hole event that takes place May 20-21 at the Cateechee Golf Course in Hartwell. Howard will be competing as an individual golfer against seven other individual qualifiers as well as the six-man teams that made the tournament from around the state, a field estimated to be between 75-100 golfers.


With a Tiger still in action, Coach Parker hasn’t given much thought to next season, but when his mind does turn in that direction, he can’t help but be optimistic about what’s in store for Dawson County golf.


“I couldn’t be more pleased about the future. Out of our top 4 scorers at Area, we had a sophomore, two freshmen, and a junior. We also return another junior and sophomore,” Parker said. “The experience that they gained this year will go a long-ways towards the future of the program. If they commit to improving their game this offseason and spend the necessary time on the course this summer and fall, then I think we have the opportunity to be really strong the next few years. With the young guys we had this season, and the growth they showed, I am definitely looking forward to the future.”