Golf blog: Very young Johns Creek team eager to keep title streak alive

The 2022 Johns Creek golf team:  (L-R) Bruce Murphy, Kenny Cox, Taiki Miyagi, Jack Hutcheson, James Henry, George Liu.

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The 2022 Johns Creek golf team: (L-R) Bruce Murphy, Kenny Cox, Taiki Miyagi, Jack Hutcheson, James Henry, George Liu.

The Johns Creek boys have owned the state golf championship since 2016. The Gladiators have won five in a row – and it likely would have been six had COVID not wiped out all the spring sports in 2020. And coach Luke Warren’s team will be among the favorites again when the Class 6A title is decided next week – even though it may be the youngest team in the field.

The Gladiators will take a lineup of one senior and five sophomores into the state tournament.

“As the season has progressed, we’ve gotten better and better,” Warren said. “When we started off, we were awful. We played in the Larry Nelson Invitational and there were nine teams and we finished seventh. We only had three guys break 80. We had to kind of grow up in a hurry because they weren’t ready at that time. They knew they had to get ready because we didn’t have anything else.”

That’s exactly what has happened. The confidence began to grow in the younger players and senior Bruce Murphy has been the rock that Warren expected.

“We just want to get better and better and fortunately for us we’ve been able to do that,” Warren said.

Murphy, the team’s No. 1 player, has been ranked as high as the No. 15 junior player in the country. Murphy was a second-team AJGA Rolex All-America and has signed to play at the University of Tennessee.

“Other than Bruce, almost all these kids played JV last year,” Warren said. “I think they stepped up into role they weren’t sure they were ready for.”

Taiki Miyagi, who had some varsity experience last year, emerged as the No. 2 player on the team. Miyagi was the MVP for the Georgia PGA Junior Tour in 2018 when he was 12 and has continued to get better. He is making his mark in AJGA events.

Miyagi and Jack Hutchinson both shot 72 at the Area 3 tournament to lead the team. Sophomores Kenny Cox, George Liu and James Henry are the other starters. All six players on the team shot 78 or better at area and were able to hold off talented Cambridge by two shots.

The sophomores have helped mitigate the loss of James Baker, whose torn ACL cost him his senior season, and the graduation loss of Deven Patel, who is playing at the University of Virginia.

“We’re still getting better and playing our best golf,” Warren said. “That’s something we’ve kind of done the last six years. We don’t want to worry about what happened early in the year. We just want to get better and better and fortunately we’ve been able to do that.”

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