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Prep Golf: Mustangs battle, move on to state

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

GREENSBORO —  East Rowan golf coach Rhett Teems played two smooth practice rounds with his team and was confident the Mustangs were ready to humble the Greensboro National course in Monday’s 3A Midwest Regional.

But things seldom go as planned with teenagers, even talented ones. East’s most experienced golfer, senior Bryson Sprinkle, kicked off his day and East’s day with a triple bogey, and things never went smoothly for the Mustangs. They had to scramble for hours. Somehow, East managed to place third, and that was just enough. The top three teams in the regional — defending state champ Marvin Ridge (310), Mount Tabor (311) and East (326) — advanced to next week’s 3A state tournament at Longleaf in Southern Pines.

“After watching our guys excel in those practice rounds, I really felt like we would win this regional,” Teems said. “I know we shot lower in our practice rounds than anyone did today. But this was just a difficult day for us. After nine holes today, I didn’t think there was any way we could make the top three. At the turn, I  was pretty sure my head was going to explode. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing out there. But I’ll say this, our guys hung in there. Scores were high today, but they came back.”

The rock for East on a wild day was freshman Colby Patterson. He shot 76, the fifth-best individual score.

“Colby is just solid,” Teems said. “He reminds me and he also reminds quite a few other people of Nick Lyerly at that age. Not a lot bothers Colby. If he happens to hit a bad shot, he doesn’t dwell on it, he just keeps going. He’s got a great long game and he’s got a great short game. The kid is a player.”

Austin Miller shot 82. Rowan County champion William Garland shot 83. Sprinkle, the North Piedmont Conference Player of the Year, shot 85, despite a couple of disastrous holes, and carded East’s fourth counting score. Teems said Sprinkle hit what appeared to be a perfect drive on the back side, but the ball bounced and rolled until it found water.

“It’s not like Bryson played bad, but he had a couple of holes that killed his round,” Teems said. “He had a quadruple bogey on the back, went in the water twice and then skulled an iron over the green.”

Alex Miller, East’s fifth entry, shot 90.

Teems said it was a challenging, tight course that frustrated the big hitters.

“There were only about four holes where you could pull your driver out of the bag and let it fly,” Teems said. “We were hitting irons all day, and we didn’t hit some of them as well as we wanted to.”

The bottom line was that when the dust settled East was one of three teams still standing. East had qualified for the state tournament for the fourth straight time. East was state runner-up in 2015 and 2016 and placed fourth in 2017.

“Not our best day, but I know our guys will bounce back from it and play better next week, and everything is OK now,” Teems said. “We qualified in the regional that is always the toughest regional in the state and we’ve made the show. Only 12 3A teams can say that. On the last day of this season, our guys will be competing for a state championship. They know they have a chance, and that’s all you can ask for.”

East held off fourth-place Cuthbertson by six strokes.

The top six individuals not on one of the qualifying teams made it to the state event as individuals. Carson’s Zain Tucker didn’t miss by much with an 81. West’s Davis Tadlock shot 87, while the Falcons’ Jake Carlton shot 93.

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In the 2A Midwest Regional at Warrior Golf Club, Salisbury’s team finished fifth with a 349 total. Teams qualifying for state competition were Central Academy (316), Lake Norman Charter (321) and West Stanly (327).

Salisbury’s Alex Antosek (76) and Hank Robins (78) did qualify to play in next week’s 2A Championships at Country Club of Whispering Pines as individuals. Antosek made a torrid stretch run and played 3-under golf over his last seven holes.

South Rowan’s Andrew Coward and Andrew Jackson shot 82s.

Salisbury’s Will Fowler shot 83. Salisbury’s fourth counting score was Harrison Parrott’s 112.

Ledford tied for sixth, one shot behind Salisbury. Oak Grove’s Grady Newton shot 74 and was one of the individual state qualifiers.

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