Teams that win championships sometimes think the next season starts where the last season ended, but it doesn’t for all teams.
Christ Church might be the exception.
The Cavaliers started the 2022 season the way they ended the 2021 season with a win and the kind of play that justifies their pre-season South Carolina High School Coaches ranking as the top AA-A team in the state.
The Cavaliers shot an 11-over par 295 to win the season opening Red Raider Invitational at the Greenville Country Club’s Riverside course.
Led by future Gamecock Walker Jennings and his younger brother William along with solid scores from veterans Jay Lowder and Jack Roberts the Cavaliers earned new coach Levi Horner his first win.
“We knew early in the year we would make some bogeys,” said Horner. “We talked about staying with their game and they would find some birdies out there,” he said.
Each of the Cavaliers made some bogeys, but each one did make some birdies.
William Jennings shot a 1-under par 70 to tie for second place with three birdies, Walker Jennings shot an even par 71 with a pair of birdies. Roberts carded a couple of birdies and an eagle to finish at 74 while Lowder cut a shot off his score with a birdie.
Christ Church won the tournament by 11 shots over St. Joseph’s and 12 shots over the top ranked AAAAA team and 2021 champions from Boiling Springs.
The field for the Invitational included many of the ranked teams in the state, but with a run of seven straight state championships and 19 in the school’s history a win against any field is almost always expected.
“We know we may be considered the favorite at a lot of tournaments, but you still have to go out and perform. If you don’t play well any team can beat you. Our job this year is to control the expectations and work to get better everyday,” said the coach.
Really good teams have really good players and the top of the individual leader board included five of the top-10 golfers ranked in the South Carolina Junior Golf Association rankings.
Greenville’s Tip Price battled both teammate Hugh Faulkner, the Jennings brothers and Boiling Springs’ Andrew Gregory for medalist honors.
Price and the Jennings brothers made the turn tied for the lead. It stayed close until the 15th hole when Price would string together three straight birdies to take a three shot lead.
“I got off to a low start,” said Price. “I birdied two holes on the front nine and kind of stalled until the last four holes,” he said.
Price birdied the par-5 fifteenth and the par-4 sixteenth hole. and finished off his third straight birdie with a 15 footer on the par-3 seventeenth.
With a comfortable margin Price, one of the longer hitters among high school players, hit his drive on the par-4 18th hole to a place he had never been before.
Price’s drive must have caught a down slope or a cart path because it rolled within 30 yards of the green on the 396 yard finishing hole.
While the extra distance was helpful, Price’s ball ended up on the wrong side of the cart path and had a difficult lie.
“I’ve played out here hundreds of times and I had never been in that spot. I managed to salvage it with a bogey,” said the winner.
The all-tournament team included Price and Faulkner from Greenville, Walker and William Jennings from Christ Church, Andrew Gregory from Boiling Springs and Joey Clary from St.Joseph’s.
The next big high school tournament will be the Rebel hosted by Byrnes High School and played at River Falls on March 7th.
Team and Individual scores at https://2021redraiderinvitational.golfgenius.com/pages/8248118254048952111