Not to take anything away from the other competitors at the South Carolina AAAA championship, but the tournament played at Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia was more a coronation than a competition for the team title.
AC Flora won its second straight championship, this one by 40 shots over the field.
It wasn’t the other teams in the championship were not good, it was simply that Flora was that much better.
“Our goal coming into the tournament was to try and get each one of our five players on the All-State team and we did it,” said Flora coach Robert Dargan. “Everyone of our guys played great and it showed on the scoreboard and with the All-State team,” he added.
If it wasn’t for Indian Land’s Mason Kucia, who won the individual title for the second straight year, the championship could have looked like a Flora team qualifier.
Future Gamecock golfer Luke Sullivan and Charles Cauthen finished at even par, 1-shot behind Kucia.
Adam Hunt finished fourth at 1-over par and Burch Harrison was fifth at 2-over par.
“The one player I was worried about making the All-State team was Coleman Ferguson, but he came through with a great round to tie for tenth,” said Dargan.
Ferguson’s first round 82 didn’t figure into the Falcons first day total of 288, but he shaved 14 shots off his round to card a 3-under par 68 in the final round.
“I’ve said this before, we have five players who are number one type players. We have a couple of dozen ways we can win a golf tournament because each of these players work so hard and are just that good” he said.
North Augusta finished in second place with the Kucia led Warriors from Indian Land in third place.
Beaufort was fourth, just in front of three Upstate teams. Greenville , Easley and Eastside finished fifth through seventh.
If other teams in the classification or in big tournaments next year were hoping that graduations would bring Fora back down to play with mere mortals, no such luck.
“We lose (Luke) Sullivan who has signed to play at South Carolina and (Burch) Harrison who is going to High Point, everyone else is back. We also have five more players if they were in the lineup today could have played as well as the guys who won,” he said.
Lake Forest is not Flora’s home course even though 15 of the 16 golfers on the team families are members. An impressive size group of club members, family and especially Flora students followed their team to the victory.
“We get tremendous support at the club and at the school. Just look around and see all the students who are here to support the golf team. I can’t think of any other school whose golf team has this kind of support,” said Dargan.
With the victory, Flora now owns a new state record for a 36 hole championship.
According to the SCHSL record book the Falcons 565 total is 3-shots better than the 2000 Riverside High School team from Greenville, which included future Fed/EX Cup champion Bill Haas
Flora also now has 16 state titles and trails Greenville’s Christ Church Cavaliers, who added their 20th title with a win in the 2022 Class AA Championship.
SC AAAA Team Scores https://birdiefire.com/tournament/110953/
Kucia wins second straight AAAA Individual championship
Indian Land’s Mason Kucia rolled in a 6-foot par putt on the final hole to defend his title at the South Carolina AAAA High School championship played at Forest Lake in Columbia.
Kucia posted rounds of 68 and 73 to finish at 1-over par 141.
The Warrior golfer was locked in a tight battle with Flora golfers both days of the 36 hole championship.
“There were guys in my group and others that I had to battle all day,” said the defending champion.
In the first round, Adam Hunt pressed the Indian Land golfer. Kucia held a 1-shot lead over the Falcons’ golfer to start the final round.
“I put myself in good position yesterday and had a one stroke lead,” he said.
The second day it was Luke Sullivan and Charles Cauthen who were the biggest threat to the Indian Land golfers effort to win another title.
Hunt struggled on the front nine and dropped off the pace early.
Sullivan could not get closer than a shot, but Cauthen would actually share the lead with Kucia late in the round.
Cauthen started the final round trailing Kucia by 4-shots. He played his first nine holes even and was six shots off the lead at the turn.
Cathen made three straight birdies on numbers 13, 14 and 15 to get within a shot of Kucina.
Playing four groups in front of the leader Cauthen bogeyed his final hole to finish one shot back of the leader, who had yet to finish his round.
Kucia made three bogeys on his final nine holes and needed a par on number 18 to hold his 1-shot lead over Cauthen.
“18 is directly over water and it is not very short. My arms were shaking on the tee and I blew it by the hole,” he said.
Needing a two putt par, Kucia rolled his approach putt to within six feet and calmly made his par to wrap up his second straight title.
“My putting was pretty solid all week, I didn’t miss any short ones. It was good to see it go in,” said Kucia.
The win puts the Indian Land 9th grader in a tie with about a dozen golfers who have won back to back state titles.
A win next year could tie Kucia with PGA Tour golfer D.J. Trahan and this year’s ACC Champion Jacob Bridgeman in the record books with three straight wins.
“Three straight, well that is the goal to go back to back to back. We will see how it goes,” said the two-time AAAA champion who as just a freshmen will have a few more chances to add to his championships.
Individual scores from the AAAA Championship https://birdiefire.com/tournament/110953/