Each year the top high school teams in South Carolina compete for championships in the classification based on the size of their school.
Size matters when it comes to football, basketball and any number of other sports, but in golf size isn’t always as important.
The Southern Cross at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken is the closest tournament the Palmetto State has to a tournament of champions for the top high school teams, regardless of classification.
This year the field included all the top ranked teams in the four classifications and many of the schools that have an eye on taking over the top spot.
With the best teams come many of the best players making for a spirited individual battle as well as the competition for the team win.
Every team that wins the Southern Cross knows it is not a state championship, but winning at the Palmetto Golf Club can turbo charge confidence and momentum for the winning team as many start state playoffs next week.
It is the next best thing to a state title.
Class AA Christ Church usually doesn’t need any additional motivation when it comes to state tournament play, but the Cavaliers don’t get many chances to compete in tournaments with the biggest schools in the state.
The Cavaliers have won more state golf championships than any school, 18 and counting.
The Greenville school may have gained the biggest head of steam going into the playoffs after beating the strongest teams and individuals in the state this year.
The Cavaliers opened the 36 hole tournament with what looked to be the best first round, until the final five holes.
“We went 5-over on the last few holes,” said Christ Church coach Kristen Rooke. “We just didn’t play very well, but there was no panic after the round,” she said.
Instead, the way the Cavaliers finished might have helped them focus more on a game plan at dinner that evening.
“We went hole by hole and talked about what to hit and how to play some of the holes. We had a plan and we stuck to it,” said the coach.
Christ Church started the final round 2 shots behind the top ranked AAAAA team from Boiling Springs and 1 shot behind Trinity Collegiate from Darlington.
Trinity competes in the South Carolina Independent School Association and last week won the Association’s AAA state title for the third time in the last four years.
Following the game plan the Cavaliers finished 5-shots in front of Trinity shooting a final round 218 for a 2-day total of 437.
“It was a perfect day and the course was perfect, but scores went up. I didn’t think we played as well as we could. The boys really worked hard in the final round to make it happen,” she said.
The Southern Cross format is different than regular high school play. Tournament teams include four golfers instead of the usual five and count three scores instead of the usual four.
The Cavalier’s Jack Wofford tied future Gamecock golfer Gene Zeigler from Trinity at the end of regulation carding a 1-under par 70.
Zeigler, and Wofford, who will play at Presbyterian, played the demanding par-3 16th hole in the playoff.
It came down to a couple of putts as Zeigler was able to secure the individual championship with a par on the playoff hole.
The Cavalier’s winning team included Wofford, William Jennings who finished 1-shot out of the lead, Walker Jennings and Jack Roberts.
It was the first win for Christ Church in the tournament and the significance of beating many of the top teams in the state was not lost on the Cavaliers.
“We have year round golfers on our team so they play and know most of the kids on the other teams from tournaments, but putting the team dynamic together here was special,”‘ she said.
Christ Church and many of the other teams will begin the state playoffs soon and the win at the Southern Cross is making a very good team feel even a little better about themselves.
“They may not be the best team in the state, but they beat the best teams in the state. Winning totally made their day,” concluded Rooke.
Lancaster was third at 442, A.C Flora was fourth at 449 and first round leader Boiling Springs finished fifth at 451.
Individually after Zeigler, Wofford and Jennings, Max Green, the 2020 SCGA Junior Player of the Year, was tied for fourth with Mason Tucker from Lancaster and Zach Adams from First Baptist.
Southern Cross scores https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/7363396170044961274