Junior Golf

Upstate Sweep.. Seneca and Pickens are SCHSL Champions

The Seneca Golf team brought the AAA championship back to the Upstate with a narrow 3- shot victory over Blue Ridge. (Seneca Photo)

Chesnee got the championships season started off well for the Upper State with their AA State Championship,

Now two more highly ranked golf teams have added state championships and the AAAA and AAA trophies will be in the Upstate.

At the Hilton Head Lakes Course, Pickens won the second golf championship in the history of the school.

The Blue Flame had a big lead going into the final round and not only made it stand up, but added to it for the AAAA championship finishing in front of the host team and defending champions from May River.

Up the road a ways, in Conway, Seneca and Blue Ridge battled for the state title on the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina.

Seneca tops Blue Ridge for AAA team title

After winning the SCHSL Championship the Seneca Bpb Cats for the third time this March envad;l

With the two Upstate teams the AAA championship could have been held in the Upstate instead of traveling to the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina.

The Bobcats held off a final nine hole charge by the Tigers to win the first golf championship in the history of Seneca High School.

“We have been pointing to this year for a couple of years as we built the team,” said coach Kevin Padgett. “Last year we knew we would have a hard time trying to beat Chesnee and Gilbert in the AAA tournament, but we showed up and tried,” he said.

The Bobcats were competitive in last year’s event, but the order of finish wasn’t as important as the experience being gained by the Seneca golfers, who had never been in that kind of game day atmosphere.

“We finished fourth last year. We played okay, but when we began planning for 2023 our goal was to get back to the championship and use that experience,” said Padgett.

During the year the Bobcats played in every major tournament from The Jack in their home town to the Lady Blue Jacket in Aynor.

“We didn’t play any 9 hole matches, only 18 and 36 hole tournaments, we wanted to do everything to prepare for the state championship.

After finishing second behind Blue Ridge at the Upper State Qualifying tournament the Bobcats first needed to get healthy before thinking about the state championship.

“We had two girls, including my daughter, who had the flu. They were out just about all last week and we really didn’t have any time to prepare the way we wanted,” said the coach.

The team opened the state championship holding a 4-shot lead over the Tigers, which grew during the first nine holes of the final round.

But after the turn Padgett started to feel like the lead might be slipping away. The Bobcats were struggling to keep the lead and Blue Ridge was charging.

“I give a lot of credit to the Blue Ridge players and Coach Cisson. They never gave up and they played hard. We were leaking oil,” said Padgett.

With five holes left Padgett went to talk with his daughter Maddie and told her the team needed to play better or the championship could get away.

“I told her we needed to step it up and as a dad and a coach I;m so proud of the way she finished the tournament and helped us win,” said Padgett.

The Bobcat senior went par, birdie, par and parred the difficult finishing hole with a big crowd watching.

“We had a great year and our three seniors led us to this championship. Maddie, Megan McConnell and Lacy Edwards all were a big part our year,” noted Padgett.

Ansley Bryson tied for third place while Padgett finished in a tie for sixth. Skylar Martin came close to matching her first round score. Hazel Martin improved by a shot in the final round and Megan McConnell and Lacy Edwards each contributed not only to the win, but the success of the entire season.

Bryson and Padgett each were recognized with All-State honors.

This was the first golf championship in the history of the school.

Belton Honea Path’s Emilyn Davis opened the AAA championship with a 1-under par 71 for the lead.

In the final round as Blue Ridge tried to catch the Bobcats, Lindley Cox shot a 75 to move from third place to the top of the leader board.

Cox shot a second round 75 to take medalist honors with a two-day total of 151 and a two-shot victory over Olivia Ireland from Chapman High School,

Davis fell back into a tie for third with Seneca’s Ansley Bryson.

Lindley Cox was third in the individual standings after last year and the field goal game. Very fost

Scores from the South Carolina AAA Girls championship

Pickens rolls to the AAAA Championship

Like the other upstate teams to win a championship the Pickens Blue Flame won the South Carolina AAAA title by combining above average golfing skills and plenty of determination. (Pickens photo)

Pickens spent the year as the top AAAA golf team in the state coaches poll, so it should come as no surprise in the state championship tournament the Blue Flame quickly got to the top.

Pickens opened the 36 hole championship at the Hilton Head Lakes course and jumped out in front by 20 shots over the defending champions and host May River.

“We had played well all year so we expected to do well in the finals,” said Pickens coach Lem Blackwell. “When we finished the first round and saw we had a big lead I talked to the team about not being satisfied with what we had done,” said the coach.

It would have taken an amazing effort from one of the teams chasing Pickens to get close or for the Blue Flame to back up and be caught, neither happened in the final round.

“We talked about not just holding the lead, but seeing if we could add to it, and the team responded,” said the Pickens coach.

But not without a small scare.

Pickens lead golfer Natalie Turner had a rough first nine holes. She had shot a first round 78, but had a 43 on the front nine in the second round.

“When I got to her I could see she was determined to get things turned around. She told me I’m not finishing my career this way. Natalie is a senior and has been an important part of the program,” said the Blue Flame coach.

After the front nine 43, Turner got to three-under par on the back nine to finish with a 77 for a two-round total of 155 and a tie for fourth place.

She joined teammate Asheton Moseley on the All-State team for AAAA.

The Pickens team was able to increase the lead to 23 shots as an indication they took the coaches words to heart.

Moseley shaved 7-shots off her first round total to shoot a 77. It was her best round ever and it came at a good time for the Blue Flame.

Also contributing to the win were Evie Harkins and Emily Hall while Ashley Alexander played one round of the championship and Rylee Reid the other to get some high level experience3 for the 7th grade.

This is the second state golf championship for Pickens. The first one came in 2013 when the Blue Flame topped Greenville for the championship.

The scoreboard told the story of the Pickens AAAA girls golf championship. (Twitter photo)

Individually Madison Messimer from Myrtle Beach was the tournament’s medalist for the second year in a row.

The Sea Hawk golfer shot an opening round 1-under pr 71 and finished at evenpar for a 143 total and a 3 shot victory over Kaylee McElwain of Aiken.

Blackwell who helped start the program had stepped aside for a few years and during that time the first state title in girls golf was won at the school.

Several years ago he returned as coach and with the plan to build a championship team one step at a time,

“Each year we found something we needed to add or do a lttle different and this year we got it all put together. I missed the first golf championship and I’m glad i didn’t miss this one,” said the Blue Flame coach.

Categories: Junior Golf

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