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High school golf: Gainesville girls get second in region, going back to state
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Athlete of the week: Buford senior leaves a champion

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By: Mitch Blomert

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JASPER — Margaret Yeh is ahead of the learning curve when it comes to playing golf.

Just one year ago, the West Forsyth High sophomore was learning how to play, now she’s a Region 7-AAA champion.

Yeh was the model of consistency, shooting a 43 on each side (86) to emerge the winner by four strokes Wednesday on the Sconti Course at Big Canoe. Yeh was hoping to shoot in the 80’s in the first 18-hole tournament this season, but emerged as low medalist with four pars on the front nine and three on the back side.

"This was just a great round of golf for me," Yeh said. "I was driving the ball well, which helped since this is a longer course than normal."

Yeh’s win put a halt to Gainesville’s run of placing the low medalist 10 of the previous 11 seasons. The Lady Red Elephants (199) are still headed to state with a second place team finish, along with region champion Pickens (183).

Now Yeh will travel to the Class AAA state tournament for West Forsyth’s first-year program, which will be played at the Applewood Golf Course on May 4 in Keysville.

Amanda DeJiacomo led the Lady Dragons to back-to-back region team titles, placing second individually (90). Two-time defending region champion Camryn Cole, a junior, finished third overall for Gainesville with a 92.

Cole didn’t win the individual top prize, but was still very excited knowing the Lady Red Elephants were state qualifiers. She credited the mental toughness of sophomore LeeAnn Noble (107) to getting Gainesville back to state.

Cole fired a 42 on the front nine, but a 50 on the back side, leaving Yeh a window to claim the region title. Gainesville’s top golfer said the key to the day was troubles on the green. She said she was on the green with a chance at saving par on 13 of the 18 holes.

Cole even managed a birdie on the par-3 No. 9 when she hit the tee shot within 15 feet of the hole from 170 out.

"They say you drive for show and putt for dough," Cole said. "And I had no dough today."

Yeh found out on No. 16 that she was in the driver’s seat with a two-stroke lead and only three to play. She finished the round out with two pars and a double bogey. West Forsyth coach Jen Hawkins was ecstatic that her newbie to the links could win on such a pressure-packed stage. She knows Yeh will only get better with two more years left in the Lady Wolverines program.

"This is just surreal," Hawkins said. "I don’t think it will sink in on the 45-minute ride home tonight or tomorrow."

Yeh credits her father, Peter, with her success. He drives Margaret to all her golf tournaments. He also takes out his camera to snap shots of the course, giving his daughter a map of the course ahead of time. The Governor’s honor student first picked up golf looking to earn an eventual athletic scholarship.

"She has a unique drive, spirit and focus for golf," Hawkins added. "She’s done a really good job of fine tuning her skills with her club selection."

Meanwhile, Pickens coach Harold Culbreth made good on his promise to his team by diving head first into the lake adjacent to the No. 18 green after defending the region title. The Lady Dragons shot 10 strokes better this year on their home course than they did last year, which was a particular accomplishment with blustery winds all day.

"This is a great group to coach and I’m extremely proud of ‘em," said Culbreth about his team, that placed seventh at state last year. "We’re hoping for another good trip at state this year."

Aly Rattazzi finished second for Pickens (93).

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