Columbus High’s first title at the Larry Gaither Hardaway Invitational golf tournament in program history wasn’t much of a surprise a year ago. The team had a handful of consistent seniors leading the way. With three freshmen among its group of four this season, however, a mild decline would have been understandable.
Dont tell that to the Blue Devils.
The Columbus foursome took a 12-stroke lead after round one on Friday and cruised to a 10-shot victory over second-place Brookstone at Bull Creek Golf Course on Saturday in the 39th annual tournament. The East Course was used for the tournament.
With the win, it became the first repeat winner since Glynn Academy won back-to-back titles in 2004-05 and shattered the notion that it takes experience to win a competition of this magnitude.
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“It does feel good to defend our title,” said junior Stanton Schorr, who tied for the team’s low score of 144 over the tournament’s two rounds. “It’s always good when you win, but especially with the lineup that we had. We’re playing three freshmen, and that’s pretty difficult to do against these good teams.”
Or it should be, at least.
Columbus shot a 290 as a team in the first round, 12 strokes better than Brookstone and Northside. The hardest part for a young team is to string together back-to-back solid rounds, but the Blue Devils hardly suffered on Day 2, carding a 297 and getting a low round 71 from freshman Nolan Miller.
“I’m just proud of them and their talent and maturity level,” he said. “This experience — we’re just trying to build the best resume we can, and we’re continuing to learn.”
Schorr was a model of consistency as the only non-freshman playing, shooting even par on both days. Consistency is the key, he said, when you’re playing in a tournament like this, where only four players play and every score counts.
“You can’t really think about your own score,” he said. “You have to just think about being consistent and helping the team.”
Brookstone notched the best round on Day 2, carding a 295 to settle into second place at 597, 10 shots back of Columbus.
“We played well,” said senior James Clark, who has signed a scholarship to play at Georgia Tech. “We kind of dug ourselves a hole the first day, but as a group we played pretty well today. We did what we needed to do. We broke 300, which is good for us.”
In its past three tournaments, Brookstone has finished first, first and second, and will carry that momentum into next week’s area tournament.
“It was a good round to push us forward to that,” Clark said.
Clark just missed earning individual medalist honors for the tournament, tying with Northside’s Zac Shellnutt for second place at 140. Clark shot a 69 in the second round, but was outdone by his friend, David Mackey of North Oconee. Mackey shot a 67 on Day 2 to finish at 137 for the tournament.
“I played pretty solid all day,” Clark said. “The putting this week has kind of held me back, but I had a couple more birdies on the back side. It was kind of a steady ship the whole time, making pars and getting birdies every now and then.”
Northside finished tied for fourth as a team with Auburn and Newnan at 609. North Oconee took third at 603.
2014 Hardaway Invitational
East Course, Bull Creek Golf Course
1. Columbus High School (290-297-587) – Stanton Schorr, 72-72-144; Ben Womack, 72-77-149; Daniel Davis, 73-77-150; Nolan Miller, 73-71-144
2. Brookstone High School (302-295-597) – James Clark, 71-69-140; Mercer Clark, 75-73-148; Jack Mize, 76-79-155; Connor Todd, 80-74-154.
3. North Oconee High School, Bogart, Ga. (305-298-603) – David Mackey, 70-67-137; Akshay Patel, 75-76-151; Davis Verner, 79-76-155; Chris Dunlap, 81-79-160.
4. Northside High School (302-307-609) – Zac Shellnutt, 68-72-140; Trent Nobles, 74-72-146; Kyle Wilson, 76-78-154; Jordan Coffield, 84-85-169.
4. Auburn (Ala.) High School (310-299-609) – Patrick Harris, 70-73-143; Addison Nix, 74-74-148; Jay Pitt, 80-74-154; Derrick Bass, 86-78-164.
4. Newnan (Ga.) High School (311-298-609) – Carson Vaughn, 73-75-148; Max Matistic, 75-73-148; Jordan Henry, 78-73-151; Preston Wise, 85-77-162.
7. Milton (Ga.) High School (306-305-611) – Dawson Kipniss, 74-75-149; Steven Schlenke, 74-78-152; Erik Grahek, 75-77-152; Andrew Coffey, 83-75-158.
8. Tift County (Ga.) High School (320-319-639) – Camden Collins, 75-76-151; Ty Gore, 78-83-161; Grant Metts, 78-79-157; Zach Forshee, 89-81-170.
8. Kell High School, Marietta, Ga. (322-317-639) – Matthew Hines, 79-78-157; Mark Decoster, 81-78-159; Ryan Hines, 81-78-159; P.J.Varner, 81-83-164.
10. Etowah County High School, Cherokee, Ga. (326-322-648) – Jake Haggerty, 72-71-143; Nick Budd, 75-70-145; Garret Sanders, 89-87-176; Shay Fu, 90-94-184.
11. North Atlanta High Schoool (336-315-651) – Jackson Perkins, 80-85-165; Taylor Walstrum, 84-75-159; Turner Hume, 86-79-165; Winston Meshad, 86-76-162.
11. LaFayette (Ga.) High School (330-321-651) – Dylan Stansell, 78-77-155; Kurt Ingram, 80-82-162; Keaton Stanfield, 84-86-170; Josh James, 88-76-164.
13. White County (Ga.) High School (331-322-653) – Garrett Rowland, 74-75-149; Steven Stack, 83-80-163; Brennan Dougherty, 84-78-162; Brynnan Adams, 90-89-179.
14. Northwest Whitfield County (Ga.) High School (333-328-661) – Chad Flanders, 78-78-156; Ethan Hayes, 80-78-158; Tyler Clayton, 87-85-172; Chandler Lomax, 88-87-175.
15. Trinity High School I, Montgomery, Ala. (341-328-669) – Pat Williams, 84-84-168; Wagner Ashmore, 85-77-162; Griffin Slater, 85-77-162; Davis Logan, 87-90-177.
16. Vidalia (Ga.) High School (346-332-678) – Avery Washinger, 81-84-165; Taylor McClellan, 87-89-176; Myles Lockley, 88-80-168; Chase Edwards, 90-79-169.
17. Veterans High School, Kathleen, Ga. (347-341-688) – Cole Hinson, 75-88-163; Jordan Schnee, 85-78-163; Austin Millwood, 86-77-163; Bradley Rudziak, 101-98-199.
18. Smiths Station (Ala.) High School (355-335-690) – Russell Dades, 79-79-158; Tyler Williams, 85-76-161; Kyle Hudson, 91-86-177; Nick Riney, 100-94-194.
19. Central High School, Phenix City (355-344-699) – Drew Welsch, 83-74-157; Chase Abbott, 89-97-186; Tyler Bishop, 91-88-179; Jeremy Dunnivan, 92-85-177.
20. Trinity II High School, Montgomery (364-338-702) – Clay Waters, 84-90-174; Phelps Williams, 86-79-165; Will Holmes, 95-84-179; Parker Chase, 99-85-184.
21. Hardaway High School (384-421-805) – Dawson Plummer, 91-122-213; Kenneth McPhaul, 93-111-204; Jackson Brown, 99-85-184; Mason Meadows, 101-103-204.