When: 8 a.m. today
Where: Waynesboro Country Club
Info: Got a twitter account? Follow sports writer Jonathan Zopf (user name jzopf) for updates on the state tournament.
Shortly after his team lost by one stroke to North Hall in the Region 7-AAA championship, Lumpkin County golf coach Jeff Fleming called the Trojans the class of the state. On Monday, they get to prove it.
The Trojans enter Monday’s Class AAA state golf tournament at Waynesboro Country Club as the No. 1 ranked team in the state, and with juniors Jimmy Lloyd and Landry Haynes as their top two golfers, North Hall is poised to make a run at the state title.
“You can’t be confident,” North Hall coach Robert Mills said. “But here’s what I’m confident of — I’m confident and I’m happy that going to the state tournament we’re in the hunt. Too many years we went to the tournament and we were playing for fifth or sixth place. It’s encouraging to know we have a chance.
“But you can’t be confident in a one-day, 18-hole golf tournament where eight teams have a chance to win.”
Aside from the top-ranked Trojans, Region 7-AAA runner-up Lumpkin County, St. Pius X, West Laurens, Columbus and Woodward Academy all have a chance to bring home the state title, but with the way North Hall has been playing this season, it’ll be tough to take down the Trojans.
“This year we got probably the most depth North Hall has ever had,” said Haynes, who won the region title with a round of 70. “Last year we played pretty good, but we didn’t have the scores to win. This year, it’s gonna take four scores in the low to mid-70s to have a chance at winning.”
North Hall is certainly capable of putting up those types of scores. And it all starts at the top of their lineup with the dynamic pair of Haynes and Lloyd, who won the region title last year.
“You don’t win state titles in any sport without exceptional athletes,” Mills said. “You can win your area, but you’ve got to have some top caliber people to win at the state level.”
You also need depth.
Besides the efforts of Lloyd and Haynes, who finished second individually at state last year, North Hall boasts a roster full of contributors like Roger Nash, Derek Watson and Ross Ward. Those three golfers may not vault to the top of the leaderboard, but their consistency helps North Hall win tournaments.
“The three and four players are seniors and they’re kind of the leaders,” Haynes said. “They do a good job of pumping us up and getting us focused.”
They also can play a little golf too.
Earlier this year, Nash recorded six birdies in a round, and he and Ward turned in rounds in the low 80s to help North Hall claim the region title.
The Trojans are going to need a repeat performance if they are to win at state.
“The key is we’re going to have to have four kids play good,” Mills said.
The rest of Region 7-AAA can attest to how deep North Hall is, but while depth may be on their side, the Trojans may benefit the most from their familiarity with the course in Waynesboro.
Along with playing the state tournament there two years ago, the Trojans have participated in the TaylorMade-Adidas Tournament at the course for the past three years. This year they left as the winners.
“It’s not an easy golf course,” Mills said. “If you try to bite off too much, it’ll jump up and bite you.”
That’s why Mills will make sure his team remains focused and shakes off all the pressure that comes with carrying a No. 1 ranking in a state tournament.
“The main thing is focusing on the task at hand and not the desired result,” Mills said. “If you start focusing on the result — winning the state title — then you lose your goal of what’s gonna get you there, and that’s the next shot.”
No one knows more about pressure than Haynes, but he thinks his team will be ready when it comes time to tee it up Monday.
“We’re kind of used to the pressure,” Haynes said. “But it’s gonna be big this year. We’re No. 1 in the state and we have a lot going for us.”
With another strong round Monday, the Trojans will be able to add a state title to the list of things they have on their side.