The South Carolina boys high school season begins next week, but before the matches and tournaments start counting in the standings many of the top teams were at the Greenville Country Club for the Red Raider Invitational.
The tournament which brought 16 pre-season ranked teams to the Riverside course in the past has been an opportunity to see if teams can live up to their early rankings.
North Augusta is the second ranked AAAA team and finished second to AC Flora last year.
Based on the Yellow Jackets performance last year’s AAAA runner-up may have closed the gap on the perennial champions.
Last year Flora blitzed the AAAA field to win by 40 shots and claim the schools second straight championship and the 16th in schools history.
If the Yellow Jackets performance at the Red Raider is any indication of what to expect from the team this year things might be different when the state championship tournament comes around.
On a less than perfect day North Augusta turned in a near perfect performance to win the Red Raider by 14 shots.
“We had a good round today,” said North Augusta coach Travis Spears. “I don’t think any of our guys had played here before so to shoot the score they did, they really were playing well,” he said.
The Yellow Jackets posted a 3-under par 281 team total to finish in front of un-ranked TL Hanna.
“We have got a good group. We have experience with a couple of seniors and we also have an eighth grader. They have all been working hard and grinding. if they can keep it up we could be something special, by the end of the year,” said the Yellow Jackets coach.
North Augusta was led by Davis Neal who posted a career low round of 64.
The Yellow Jacket senior was flying high to start his round with seven straight birdies before gravity caught up with him on his ninth hole.
“I finished t-3 in the Morgan Lucas this weekend so I have been playing well,” he said. ” I actually surprised myself,,” he said.
The first seven birdies were made by dropping 10-12 foot putts.
After his double on number nine and bogey on number ten, Neal had to collect himself before playing eleven.
“On the tee I told myself you can’t let this slip away. You got to get after it,” he remembered saying to himself.
Neal reeled off three straight birdies to make up for the lost shots and then parred in for the 64.s.
“I’d like to think I could do this again but starting with seven straight birdies, I don’t know. If I keep putting like I did today anything could happen,” said Neal.
The rest of the Yellow Jackets contributed to the big win.
Andrew Baxley and Jackson Beggs each finished at 1-over par 72 to tie for 12th.
Luke Johnson and Matthew Baxley each shot 73s and either golfers score could have counted towards the team total.
After finishing second to Flora last year with this kind of performance the Yellowjackets may be taking aim at the defending champions.
“Flora is the beast.They are the gold standard everybody is chasing. We are just going to play hard and hope for the best,” said Spears.
North Augusta will host this year’s AAAA championship at their home course, the River Course, and will host the defending champions in a head to head match on March 6th at the course during the season.
“They called and wanted to come and see the course so we scheduled a match. I’m anxious to see how we do,” said the Yellowjacket coach.
North Augusta made the headlines with their score and the play of Neal, but TL Hanna managed to earn a second place finish without putting a golfer on the all-tournament team.
The Yellow Jackets from Anderson were lead by Bennett Scaletta, who shot a one-under par 70 and his brother Jackson who finished at even par.
Eric Erlenkheuser and Cal Harbin rounded out the scores for Hanna with Caden Olsommer shooting a solid 78.
After Dean six golfers tied for second place at 2-under par 69.
The 2022 SCGA Junior of the Year Andrew Gregory from Boiling Springs led the group five shots behind the leader.
Also earning all-tournament honors were Greenville’s Tip Price, Mauldin’s Major Lenning, St.Joseph’s Henry Hall and Beau Lewis from Eastside.
Dorman’s Casy Kosney made a hole-in-one on the second hole to join the group in a tie for second.
The defending tournament champions from Christ Church finished fifth.
The official season starts next week with Byrnes hosting another strong field at The Rebel to be played at River Falls.
Red Raider Invitational scores https://2023redraiderinvitational.golfgenius.com/pages/9294471913684385669
Categories: High School Golf
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