Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hickory Grove Freshman wins NCISAA state golf

Special Correspondent

GREENSBORO – Chad Cox didn’t know if he could win a state championship when he teed off Tuesday morning. But late the same afternoon, Cox, a freshman at Hickory Grove, proved he was the best in the state firing a three-under par 69 to win the NCISAA 3A state championship at Bryan Park in Greensboro.

“I really wasn’t thinking about winning this tournament,” Cox said, who shot an opening round 74. “I was just thinking about playing well and finishing in the top 10, so I could make all state.”

To win it all, Cox had to beat one of state’s best in Covenant Day junior John Varol, who led after an opening-day 71. Varol, a junior who has already committed to play at Wake Forest, had at least a share of the lead until the 17th hole when he turned a birdie opportunity into a three-putt bogey when his putt lipped out for the second time in four holes.

“I just couldn’t make key putts all day,” Varol said, who finished second with a two-day total of 145. “But that’s golf. Sometimes you make them (putts) and sometimes you miss them.”

Cox, who tied Varol for the lead for the first time on the 12th hole, remained deadlocked with his opponent until the 17th green. Then, as Varol bogeyed, Cox pared the 17th to take a one-shot lead for the first time all tournament. Cox then hit his approach shot to within five feet on the 18th hole and nailed his birdie putt dead-center.

“That may have been the best shot of my life,” Cox said of his approach on 18, who birdied holes one, two, 11 and 15. “I knew if I could beat (John) Varol, then I would have a great chance to win this tournament.”

Charlotte Christian’s Hank Handegraff shot 75 and 74 to finish tied for sixth while Charlotte Latin’s Drew Lankford shot 75 on both days to finish tied for 8th. Both Handegraff and Lankford were named to the all-state teams by finishing in the top 10.

While Chad Cox made a comeback to win the individual state title, Ravenscroft dominated the team title shooting a two-day 588 (12-over par) to beat the field by a staggering 27 shots.
The Ravens, who were a perfect 50-0 this season including tournament play, won their third straight state title and their fourth championship in the last five years.

“My guys expect to win every time they step on the course,” Ravenscroft golf coach Jimmy Cox said, whose entire top six are all scratch golfers. “Our goal was to win every time we played this year, and we accomplished that today.”

Ravenscroft was led by sophomore Charlie Killian who shot 74-72 for a two-day total of 146, but also got a lot of help from senior Bo Andrews (two-day score of 148), who committed to play at Georgia Tech, junior Zak Dearinger (150) and sophomore Day Wilson (148), who all finished in the top 10.

The Ravens did not have a player shoot higher than 78 in the entire tournament.
Charlotte Latin finished fourth overall as a team with a two-day total of 623 (47-over par) while Charlotte Country Day finished with a 632, good for fifth-place in the state.

**All Individuals below all-state
1 Chad Cox, Hickory Grove – 74 – 69 - 143
2 John Varol, Covenant Day – 71 – 74 - 145
3 Charlie Killian, Ravenscroft – 74 -72 - 146
T4 Bo Andrews, Ravenscroft - 77 – 71 - 148
T4 Day Wilson, Ravenscroft 72 – 76 - 148
T6 Hank Handegraff, Charlotte Christian 75 – 74 - 149
T6 Patrick Costello, Duhram Academy - 72 – 77 – 149
T8 Ross Slaughter, Forsyth Country Day - 78 – 72 - 150
T8 Drew Lankford, Charlotte Latin – 75 – 75 - 150
T8 Leif Neijstrom, Greensboro Day – 76 – 74 - 150
T8 Zak Dearinger, Ravenscroft – 72- 78- 150

Team Scores
1 Ravenscroft - 293 – 295 - 588
T2 Duhram Academy – 308 – 311 - 619
T2 Forsyth Country Day – 313 – 306 - 619
4 Charlotte Latin – 315 – 308 - 623
5 Charlotte Country Day – 316 – 316 - 632
6 North Raleigh Christian – 325 – 308 - 633
7 Christ School – 328 – 311 - 639
8 Wesleyan Academy – 319 – 321 - 640