When the Heritage Foundation rankings began for 2022, Andrew Gregory set a goal for the year.
“My goal was to win the Player of the Year award,” said the Boiling Springs High School senior.
In the season long points race Gregory achieved his goal with what runners call “a final kick” to the finish line.
At the end of the South Carolina Junior Golf Association’s schedule Gregory ran through the tape.
Gregory got off to a great start with a win in one of the early season championships.
He won the boys title at the Morgan Lucas championship when he came from four shots off the lead in the final round to win.
If Gregory wasn’t on college recruiters’ radar after his win the previous summer at the CGA’s Hope Valley Junior his victory at Chanticleer opened some recruiters eyes.
“If I can keep playing like this I can get some attention. I’ve got a lot of things to think about what I want in a college. Getting a good win like this is going to give me a few more options,” said Gregory after the win.
The boys’ high school season began and the Boiling Springs Bulldogs, with Gregory leading the way were the pre-season pick to win the AAAAA championship.
Gregory won three tournaments during the high school season and finished on top of the Upper State qualifying tournament.
In the state championship at the Charleston Municipal Golf Course Gregory didn’t worry about individual honors, he did what the team needed to win the championship.
Individually he finished 10th, but birdied his 17th hole and that made the difference for the team.
“The team pushed me through it. When I was told we were in a winning spot, I said ‘I cannot mess this up. This feels great!” he said after the win.
When the summer junior season began Gregory qualified for the US Junior and finished 10th at the SCGA Junior.
Before he left for the national junior he won the coveted championship at The Blade at Thornblade Club.
He didn’t play great golf in the final round, but he did play winning golf and claimed a 3-shot victory over Greenville’s Tip Price.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball the best, but I made a bunch of clutch putts, and that’s what kept me in it, he said after his second SCJGA win of the year.
Gregory was part of the team of juniors who went to Scotland and helped the SC Juniors defend the Watson Cup.
He finished the summer with top-25 performances at the Beth Daniel and Orange Jacket.
He tied for 11th at the CGA Creed at Camden and was runner-up at the Transou at Cherokee National.
At the prestigious Bobby Chapman Junior at the Country Club of Spartanburg, he finished 11th among the field of nationally ranked juniors.
Gregory had done what he needed to do to be in the hunt for Player of the Year,
Going into the final two events on the SCJGA schedule, Gregory trailed Indian Land’s Mason Kucia, the South Carolina AAAA High School champion, and Florence’s Jay Smith, the winner of the Grant Bennett and the Transou.
Gregory shared the first round lead at the Cheraw Fall challenge with Luke Walmet from Mount Pleasant.
In the final round Gregory sprinted away from the field.
He shot a final round, tournament best, 6-under par 66 to win by 8-shots.
“It has been my goal this year to win the Player of the Year. I’ve had a good year and I needed this win and need to play well next in Hartsville to hopefully have a chance,” he said after his third SCJGA win.
When Andrew Gregory was leaving Cheraw with the trophy for winning the Fall Challenge, SCJGA Tournament Coordinator Mark Elam asked if he would be at the next tournament, the Players Championship,
Gregory answered he would be there and he was going to win, again and backed it up at the Hartsville Country Club.
He claimed his second straight win in the SCJGA Fall Series of tournaments.
“I guess I was feeling pretty good about my game after the win at Cheraw,” said Gregory. “I had been playing well and I felt like I could keep it going,” he said.
And he did in the first round of The Players Championship at the Hartsville Country Club.
Gregory used a pair of eagles to take the lead. He chipped in for one on the second hole and made a “little” four-footer for his other eagle on 18. Putting two eagles on a scorecard for the first time.
“I’m pretty sure I would have remembered if I had done that before, but that was the first time, and they came at a good time for me,” he said.
The second eagle was on the finishing hole and gave Gregory a one shot lead over future Vanderbilt golfer Rowan Sullivan from Charleston and future Presbyterian golfer Gage Howard from Woodruff.
He was just 18 holes away from winning two in a row and 18 holes away from wrapping up a season long goal.
The start of Gregory’s final round was the text book definition of a roller-coaster ride.
On the first nine holes he made three bogeys, but after every bogey he bounced back with a birdie.
Gregory made the turn at even par and then carded two birdies, with no bogeys on the back nine to finish the tournament at 5-under par with a four-shot victory.
“I was up and down today,” said Gregory. “I played the front nine pretty good and made a lot of pars. I hit a few bad drives on the back nine but was able to birdie the par fives, so overall it ended up being a pretty good round,” he said.
Howard from Woodruff and Charles Cauthen from Columbia tied for second place.
Gregory topped a much stronger field in the “Players” than he did a few weeks back in Cheraw.
The top nine golfers in the points standings were all in the field at “The Players” adding to the value of Gregory’s victory.
“I might have felt some pressure in the past, but this time I just tried to play a good shot after a bad one, just one shot at a time. If I hit a bad shot I didn’t let it bother me and I followed it up with a good shot,” he recalled.
Florence’s Jay Smith and Indian Land’s Mason Kucia were right behind Gregory in the points standings and also were behind him at the finish in Hartsville, which allowed Gregory to accomplish his biggest goal this year.
“My goal all year was to be the Player of the Year. Confidence is so important in golf and as I was finishing I had it. I told myself you can play golf, beat people and win golf tournaments, that kind of confidence is going to help me play college golf next year,” said the future Liberty University golfer and South Carolina Junior of the Year.
Gregory will receive the Jay Haas SC Junior Player of the Year Award from Haas during a presentation at Thornblade Club on January 2nd.