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BIG EAST GOLF
The established trend for 2018 3-A Big East Conference boys golf continued in Monday’s fourth of six matches in windy, wet conditions over the par-72, 6,130-yard Happy Valley Country Club layout.
The Fike High team of coach Glenn Jones and freshman standout Jake Herring not only continued their domination but embellished it.
For the fourth time in as many outings, Herring emerged the medalist with a 36-38—74, 2-over-par, and Fike led the team competition —a lso for the fourth time — with a score of 344 strokes for its low four individuals.
Surging league newcomer Franklinton finished second at 362, followed by Hunt at 373, Northern Nash at 399 and Southern Nash at 411.
The Golden Demons now lead archrival Hunt by 87 strokes with only two matches left, but the Warriors saw their second-place advantage against Franklinton dwindle to 22 shots (1,465-1,487).
“I’m starting to get worried,” admitted Hunt coach Matt Lemmons.
Individually, Herring owns a 26-shot margin against Northern Nash’s Christian Crawford, who posted Monday’s third-lowest round of 85. Individuals playing all six matches are not required to count their worst score. The season’s total includes just five 18-hole rounds.
However, Crawford is just three shots ahead of Hunt senior Christopher Clark, who fashioned a 39-40—79 for Monday’s second-best round.
In the individual chase, Hunt sophomore Garrett Moore advanced from a tie for eighth place to the No. 7 position. Southern Nash’s Hunter Perry, a senior playing golf for the first year, slipped one spot to No. 8. Entering the top 10 was Fike sophomore Ryan Richardson, who posted a 46-45—91 Monday.
The Demons also counted a 38-50—88 from Warren Matthews and a 50-41—91 from senior Johnathan Hendricks. Herring, despite frustration around the greens, registered three birdies. Matthews birdied Nos. 1 and 5, while Hendricks birdied No. 13.
Fike’s regional hopes hinge on the performances of Hendricks and Matthews, the winner of numberous Wilson County Youth Golf Association age-group titles. At the present, Matthews, who has grown four inches to 6-foot-3 since last season, is attempting to find an acceptable medium between himself and golf.
“At times, I like golf and, at times, I don’t,” he acknowledged. “It all depends on the mood, but it’s getting better. Being on the team with Jake motivates me a lot.
“I am expecting to shoot in the low 80s, but I always have mess-ups with putting and around the greens.”
For the Warriors, Clark, who birdied the par-5, No. 7 layout twice, was complemented by 95-pound sophomore Moore with a 46-47—93 and junior Adam Dermer with a 99.
Clark wound up birdieing No. 7 twice because the 30-golfers played the Nos. 7 and 8 layouts twice with Nos. 16 and 17 unplayable. Johnson birdied No. 1.
Johnson was striking the golf ball well enough that he thought he had a shot of bettering his low high school round of 89.
“I hit the ball really solid and I hit my driver really well,” he reviewed. “But my short game was kind of bad; I gave myself a lot of tough second shots.”
But practice and more practice is no issue for Johnson.
“I love (golf),” he declared. “I can’t get away from it. I play all the time. You have to keep practicing to get better. For my team, I want to go out and put up a good number, but most important is to be confident, have fun and not get frustrated.”
Fun is the reason Southern Nash’s Perry abandoned baseball and turned to golf his senior year. He paced the Firebirds with a 96.
“Baseball got to where it was not fun,” Perry explained. “There was too much pressure. I really like coach (Allen) Wilson and decided golf would be more fun. I love playing for him.”
But like Herring, Clark, Hendricks, Matthews and Johnson, Perry’s fun was limited Monday.
“I can shoot in the 80s most of the time,” he declared, “but I had a terrible back nine today. I think I am a mid-80s player now.”
Perry, who also declined numerous opportunities to play college football, mentions as his goals to “make regionals and have fun.”
Coach Wilson just wishes Perry had been available as a golfer the previous three years.
Judging from Monday’s scores, several golfers dealt with similar sentiments expressed by Fike senior Adam Pendergrass.
“I hung my head too early,” he explained, “and, in golf, you just can’t do that.”