Rawls, Smith to make state tourney debuts

Rawls, Smith to make state tourney debuts
Rawls, Smith to make state tourney debuts

While quiet is the norm on most golf courses, Weakley County high school golfers  made plenty of noise in the standings of the Region 7 A-AA Golf Tournament.
Thanks to outstanding outings, Westview’s Austin Smith and Greenfield’s Haley Rawls both earned trips to the TSSAA Class A-AA State Tournament to be held next week at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.
The Dresden Lions team  finished fourth, but only the top boys and girls teams advance to the state tournament. Lion Matt Beaty had the low score for Dresden with an 85. Peyton Williams and Ty Roberts both followed with 92s. Austin Parsley added a 93 and Dillon Quinton carded a 104 for Dresden.
In addition to the No. 1 teams, the top four individual golfers not on teams qualifying earn a chance to compete at the state tournament. Milan High School claimed both the boys and girls team berths.
Not only did Smith advance to the state tournament, which will begin next Tuesday and conclude on Wednesday, he finished the regional tournament with  medalist honors in the boys portion of the TSSAA event held in windy conditions at The Farms in Dyersburg. The Westview senior carded with a 72 on the day, three strokes better than his closest competitor, Shane Peden from Gibson County. In addition to Smith and Peden, South Fulton’s Chase Mayfield with a 76 and Bradford’s Keith Hodgens with a 78 will compete individually.
Greenfield senior Matt Keeling finished his high school golf career with a 92 on his card.
Rawls finished fourth overall  in the girls half of the tournament. The Greenfield links standout ended the day with an 88, seven strokes behind girls medalist Olivia Fowler from Covington, who carded an 81. Other female golfers advancing to state were Union City’s Mollie Stone with a 91 and Camden’s Resa Herndon with a 95.
Rawls’ Greenfield teammate McCall Scates finished the day with a 146.
“She (Scates) still struggles controlling her ball. That doesn’t work well on a course with so much out of bounds,” Greenfield golf coach David Dunlap said. “She gained a lot of valuable experience this year as a freshman. She reminds me so much of Haley in her first year.”
Rawls played like a veteran to earn her state tourney berth, starting the regional on the back nine and playing well until the 18th hole. A triple bogey on 18 put her behind, but the junior recovered and played bogey golf over the final nine holes.
For Rawls, the gusty wind was not a problem as she hit the ball off the tee. The Lady Yellowjacket had more trouble with her putting and short game.
“We knew she would be fine as long as she stayed away from the big numbers,” Dunlap said.
Medalist Smith admitted the wind made conditions much tougher, according to Westview golf coach Chad Johnson. Like Rawls, Smith’s ball striking was fine, but his game on the greens caused the bogeys.  While the wind didn’t deter Smith, the WHS senior thinks it did have an effect on other golfers.
“He (Smith) always maintains his composure very well, whether he is doing well or having a little trouble. This is key, I believe, in the consistency of his play. I don’t know of anyone else who works as hard as Austin does to make his game better,” Johnson said.
Smith began the round on an even keel with three consecutive pars. A birdie — his first of four on the day — came on his fourth hole. A bogey on No. 5 countered the first birdie.
Smith parred the next two holes before notching another birdie on No. 8. Again he followed a birdie with a bogie.
The Charger didn’t let that bother him as he birdied No. 10 and No. 11 then parred No. 12 and No. 13.
He sandwiched two pars on No. 15 and No. 16 between bogies on No. 14 and No. 17. Smith finished with a par on the 18th hole.
“I am very proud of Austin. He actually had about six putts that touched the hole and lipped out. Just imagine that score if those went in,” Johnson noted.

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