Locals ready for state golf championships

Locals ready for state golf championships

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Locals ready for state golf championships

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This high school golf season has been pleasantly consistent with sub-par rounds for Florida High junior Henry Westmoreland.

And now Westmoreland is taking aim at erasing memories of the two consistently bad rounds he shot — by his standards — during last year’s state tournament at Deer Island in Tavares.

“It was last year, so you can’t let any bad rounds get to you,” said Westmoreland, who shot 80 both days. “I remember last year’s course was very hard. It was very windy. There was a lot of water. But fortunately we’re playing a different course this year.”

Westmoreland will be the lone local competing in the FHSAA Class 1A boys’ final at Mission Inn Resort, but he’s ready to show his mettle.

He captured a district title for the Seminoles with a 4-under-par 68 and earned his way downstate with an even-par 72, two strokes back of the regional medalist. Westmoreland has pretty much been in between those two numbers the whole year and gone quite low as well as a product of his biggest change following last year.

“Being consistent, trying to keep my mindset going and not lose focus,” Westmoreland said. “I’ve been working a lot on the mental part and that’s what’s helping me stay positive and trust my game to do what I know I’m capable of doing.”

He has a goal in mind as he tees it up today, and considering last year’s winner shot 70-69, it’s not a stretch believing he can do the same.

“Scores were pretty low last year,” Westmoreland said. “It was really impressive considering the course and the conditions, but I know my game is there that I can shoot that number. I just need to keep my head in the game, not lose focus and play to the best of my abilities, which is probably better than that score.”

Joining Westmoreland as an individual at Mission Inn but on the 1A girls’ side is John Paul II freshman Teresa Conroy, who shot 80 in the region tournament and placed three strokes back of medalist Caroline Parrish of Maclay.

The Marauders will be making a fourth straight trip downstate, and while it will be a wide-eyed experience for two of the younger golfers, Maclay coach Mike McGrotha wants to see senior Parrish, a Florida State commit, and junior Kolby McWilliams do well.

“Competition will be a little steeper for our team,” McGrotha said. “I’m hoping Caroline and Kolby play two solid rounds together because I’d like to see both of them place.”

Parrish had eight three-putts in her region title round of 77 — plenty of room to make up strokes — and has shot a career-low 74 this season. Both Parrish and McWilliams seem destined to improve drastically from last year.

“They’ve got the experience,” McGrotha said. “It’s just getting off to a good start and handling the nerves, which is a little bit different at state.”

The only locals taking on the 2A Deer Island course will be the Chiles boys, which finished 15th out of 16 teams last year and 47 strokes back of state champ Lakewood Ranch’s two-day total.

“If they shoot over a certain score they have in their head, they need to keep fighting for every stroke,” Timberwolves coach Ken Smith said. “What they did last year, to me, was they got to a certain score and said. ‘The other guys will handle it.’

“And that didn’t happen. We just need to focus on putting our best score up and if we bogey a couple holes or hit a couple bad shots, just hang in there and finish the first day and see where we stand.”

There is little difference between Chiles’ No. 1 and No. 5 players. On any day, last year’s state participants Matt Young, Bennett Baker and Chase Burkhalter or newbies Eli Young and Fletcher Morgan could go low. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility with this bunch, not even a state title.

“If we shoot our regular of 295, 296, we should be in the top five or six on the first day,” Smith said. “And they have a better score in them than 290, which is the best we’ve done this year.”

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