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Lady Tigers club their way into top-10 golf finish
Howard closes break-out season 34th in state
Sophomore Will Howard puts in time at the Cateechee Golf Course driving range on May 20 in preparation for the 2019 GHSA State Tournament. - photo by For the Dawson County News

The DCHS golf program topped off what was supposed to be a rebuilding year with a two-day visit to the GHSA State Golf Championship on May 20 and 21 where the Lady Tigers captured a top-10 finish and sophomore Will Howard, the lone representative of the boys’ varsity team, finished 34th overall.

Unlike any other sport in Dawson County, golf does not count regular season performance towards any end season goals; if you win every tournament in a season it does not grant you a preferred position in the year-end tournament nor does it accord any weight to the state finals.

“As far as teams’ standings, there are no standings for golf,” Head Coach Michael Parker said. “The only thing that matters is the Area Tournaments.”

Although the standings don’t matter, the Lady Tigers advanced to the state playoffs after sweeping the season in regional competition and qualifying for the post-season with a combined round of 316 in the 3-AAA tournament on April 23 to capture the final tournament slot.

A relatively young team, the Lady Tigers feature two golfers, sophomores Mariah Benson and Maddi Anglin that only began swinging clubs this season, while junior Cosette Huthwaite and sophomore Kenzie Smith provided some experience to anchor the team through the year.

The tournament took place amongst the wooded hills of Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell, Georgia. Spread across 250 acres, the par-72, 18-hole course featured water hazards on five holes and elevation changes designed to make the short holes play longer than anticipated.

As she has done all season, Smith led the team after day one of the tournament with the low round of 89 and the team was in good position for a strike into the top ten as they sat just outside the bubble in eleventh place, four strokes behind.

Warmer, windier conditions made for a tougher course on day two and scores rose across the board. Despite the conditions the Lady Tigers cut eight strokes from day one and fought their way into the tenth-place spot with a combined, two-day total of 654, led again by Smith’s low round of 92.

“With two of our four never having played golf until March, I don’t think anyone expected us to qualify for state, much less come in with a 10th place finish,” Parker said. “That’s a true testament to the hard work our girls put in this season. All credit goes to them.”

Sophomore Will Howard was the only member of the boys’ varsity team to qualify for the state tournament in April after the Tigers ended their season with a heartbreaking sixth place finish (the minimum necessary to qualify for a state berth) but without the required points.

After some time on the driving range the morning of the tournament, Howard settled down to the course and fired a day-one 84 to move himself into the middle of the pack heading into day two. Gustier conditions made the second round a different animal and Howard fought hard to hold his position with a final round of 89 to finish 34th overall.

“He’s only been playing for 15 months, so to see the way he’s grown as a player over the last year has been impressive. Individual region champ, 5th in Area, and 34th in state,” Parker said. “That’s a strong list of accomplishments and a credit to the hard work that he’s put into the game of golf.”