The Palmetto Preview brings many of the top girls high school golf teams, from the previous season, together to start the new season.
This year some travel restriction placed on high school teams thinned the field a little, but 10 teams with state championship ambitions participated in the event at the Mid Carolina Country Club in Prosperity.
The 18 hole team event was won by Lexington, as the Wildcats made a statement about the upcoming season.
“I guess we are back,” said Lexington coach Brandon Smith. “It was nice to get back to playing with everything that has been going on and it was even better that we had our whole team together,” he added.
The Wildcat’s team finished at 7-over par 299 for a 15 shot victory over the field.
Individually, Lexington’s Molly Hardwick birdied her final hole to win medalist honors.
When Lexington claims it is back, it didn’t have a long way to go. The Wildcats are the gold standard for girls high school golf in South Carolina.
Lexington measure their seasons by championships, not wins. The Wildcats have won 13 state titles.
Last year after winning three straight AAAAA titles Lexington finished second to a very good Blythewood team.
Many schools celebrate a runner-up finish, but for the Wildcats it was a disappointment.
“Blythewood played great and we give them all the credit, but last year we never were at full strength. It is tough to win a state title when the defending individual champion misses the season,” added Smith.
Isabella Rawl, a future Clemson golfer, was out of action for the entire year with an injury. She made an impressive comeback a few weeks ago when she won the SCJGA’s Beth Daniel Junior Azalea.
Having Rawl back allows the Wildcats to field a team with three of the best high school golfers in the state.
“Karlee Vardas won the state last year and Isabella did it the year before. Molly has won tournaments for us and Emily Beiers and Bella Bernagozzi give us a very solid team,” said Smith.
The Lexington coach expects the battle for a 14th state title will likely include a few more teams than in the past years.
Defending champion Blythewood, Boiling Springs, Byrnes and Dorman played in the event. St. James and Carolina Springs were not in the field, but Smith expects all of these teams and maybe a few others could figure in the race for a championship.
“The best thing about today was that we have our team back together. I hope that means we are back,” concluded Smith.
Chesnee finished second in the tournament and two of the Eagles’ golfers finished in second and third place.
Sydney Roberts finished at 5-under par for second while her teammate Isabella Britt was 2-under to finish in third place.
Byrnes golfer Anika Rana, the two-time Spartanburg County Junior champion, finished at 1-under par in fourth place.
Lexington’s Rawl and Boiling Springs MK Talledo each finished at even par in a tie for fifth place.
Complete tournament scores are available at https://birdiefire.com/tournament/64691/
The next test for many of the top girls high school teams in South Carolina will come at the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s High School Invitational.
The two-day event will be played September 26-27th at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence.
The field for the Invitational may also be affected by school districts restrictions on travel due to Covid-19.