Golf blog: Quest for titles begin for top girls, boys

Loralie Cowart plays her tee shot at the third hole during the round of 16 at the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.  Cowart will compete for Carrollton High School in this week's GHSA championships. (Darren Carroll/USGA)
Loralie Cowart plays her tee shot at the third hole during the round of 16 at the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Cowart will compete for Carrollton High School in this week's GHSA championships. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

Credit: USGA Museum

Credit: USGA Museum

Since the state golf championships moved to a 36-hole event for every classification, the quality of the winners has steadily improved. It’s tougher to shoot two strong rounds on back-to-back days, lessening the chances of an surprise winner.

The caliber of host courses has improved, too, with more top facilities willing to turn over their course for the state’s top event.

The championships return on Monday and Tuesday at sites throughout the state. All golf championships were cancelled last year because of COVID-19.

Here is a look at the state championship tournaments.

Class 7A: The boys will play at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton, the girls at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie. Boys: West Forsyth is the defending champions, but the Wolverines were only the No. 4 team in the area tournament. Milton, Lambert, Gainesville and Marietta are the top contenders in what should be a compelling tournament. Girls: There’s no reason to think Lambert won’t win it again. The Longhorns, who have won six of the last seven state competitions, are loaded. Sophomore Sara Im is one of the best players regardless of classification and Iris Cao, Sharon Mun and Averi Cline make up a deep, competitive roster. Peachtree Ridge and Walton lead the other contenders.

Class 6A: The boys and girls will both be conducted at Sunset Hills Country Club in Carrollton. Boys: Defending champion Johns Creek has won four straight championships and is loaded again. The Gladiators’ top six players each shot 75 or better. Deven Pael and Bruce Murphy are the best of the lot. Dalton, Creekview, Carrollton, Glynn Academy and Buford are the best of the contenders. Girls: Defending champion Johns Creek has won two of the last year and will be the favorite again. Creekview, second to Johns Creek in the area tournament, is one of the few others with the depth needed to win a team title. Carrollton’s Loralie Cowart, who has signed with Georgia, is the favorite for medalist, along with Johns Creek’s Katie Song.

Class 5A: The boys and girls will both play the championships at Green Island Country Club in Columbus. Boys: This looks like a head-to-head competition between St. Pius (which won Class 4A in 2019), Woodward Academy and Cartersville. Each team has great depth; each one counted four scores in the 70s at their area tournaments. St. Pius is led by Charles Kyle and Carter Loflin and Woodward Academy features Glover Amick, Wyatt Seilkop and Parker Middleton. Cartersville features Buck Brumlow, Jake Lawson and Camden Meadows, who were each in the 60s at area. Wayne County and Starr’s Mill should be in the mix, too. Girls: Starr’s Mill has won the title in 5A the last three years and Woodward Academy moved up this season after winning the last two championships in 4A. Starr’s Mill is led by Rachel Camp and Maggie Simonian and Woodward Academy features Morgan Ellison and Ally Francis.

Class 4A: The University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens will host the boys and girls championships. Boys: This one looks wide open, with Columbus, Perry, Marist and Heritage-Catoosa loaded with both go-low potential and depth. Girls: Columbus and Marist are the teams to beat here.

Class 3A: The boys will compete at Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell and the girls will play at Apple Mountain Resort and Golf Club in Clarkesville. Boys: Westminster fields perhaps the best overall team in the state. The Wildcats, who have won two straight state titles and three of the last four, are led by William Love, who shot 64 at the area tournament. Richmond Academy has the depth to make a run at the Wildcats, but others appear to be missing the fourth player required to challenge. Girls: Pierce County is the defending champion and the Bears have another solid team. But the teams to beat may be White County, led by Catie Craig, and North Hall, led by Mikayla Dubnik.

Class 2A: The boys and girls will both compete at Southern Hills in Hawkinsville. Boys: Lovett brings a deep, loaded team to the tournament. Luke Ferrara, Hendricks Anthony and Wade Shepherd give the Lions a good head start on the field. Dodge County is a darkhorse. Girls: Bremen is the defending state champion and Christian Williams should compete for state medalist honors. Jeff Davis has three girls capable of shooting in the mid-80s, led by area medalist Zoie Marchant.

Class A Public: The boys and girls will play their championships at The National Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee. Boys: Metter has won two straight Class 2A championships and should be in the mix again. The Tigers are led by Ian Glanton, who won the region championship by shooting a 66. But the team to beat may be Lake Oconee Academy which features the powerful one-two punch of Rylan Black and Colby Bennett. They shot 65-66 at the area meet. Girls: Lake Oconee Academy is going for its third straight championship. Senior Katie Scheck, who has signed with Penn State, has been the state medalist the last two years. She shot a women’s course record 68 at the area meet at Double Oaks Golf Course in Commerce. Sister Kelli Scheck and Georgia Bosart are also outstanding.

Class A Private: Heritage Golf Links in Tucker will host the boys and girls championships. Boys: Christian Heritage is the defending champions and return Jack Stafford in an otherwise building year. There are numerous teams with a good chance, including Stratford Academy, Prince Avenue Christian, Brookstone, Mount Paran, Savannah Country Day and Darlington. Girls: It only takes two good girls to win a state championship, which means Tallulah Falls (Maggie Jackson, Brinson Hall), Athens Academy (Ally Buchanan, Meredith Bennett) and Walker (Ella Stoll, Anna Klass) each have a great chance.

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