Next week’s Class 4A girls golf state tournament is assured of having quite the local flavor.
Being held at the Hackler Course on the Coastal Carolina University campus, each Horry County squad — Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and St. James — qualified for the event as a result of their performance at Monday’s Lower State tournament at the Hartsville Country Club.
Myrtle Beach finished with a total of 377, while North Myrtle Beach earned a team score of 451. On this day, however, it was St. James that stole the show.
The Sharks shot a combined score of 319 to earn the Lower State 4A title, 39 strokes ahead of their closest competitor, Hartsville. It was the program’s fourth consecutive Lower State crown — three coming at the Class 3A level, and now one in Class 4A.
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Sophomore standout Smith Knaffle led the way with a 70 for the round, the only player at the tournament to finish under par. Jordyn White wasn’t far behind, shooting a 76.
“Our top two scored very well,” said St. James girls golf coach Denise Noll. “The other three fared very well too. Though I think we’re capable of shooting lower, I think it was a relatively good day for us.”
Initially scheduled to be played in Hilton Head, the tournament was moved to Hartsville due to Hurricane Matthew. The storm wasn’t the only thing that somewhat affected play, many of the teams — St. James included — unable to practice due to school not being in session.
“I believe our scores could have been better if we had the chance to practice,” Noll said. “Things like that kind of get you out of routine, out of what you tend to do. Hopefully getting back into the swing of things will help, and possibly give our scores a boost.”
St. James has yet to play at the Hackler Course this season, but many of the players are already rather acquainted with it, having played the course during S.C. Junior Golf Association play. Such may prove quite advantageous for them heading into next week’s tournament, which features a number of tough teams, including one from Greenville which beat the Sharks at a recent tournament.
“(Greenville) may be our biggest competition,” Noll said. “We played them recently in a tournament and beat us, though it was when we didn’t have (Knaffle) with us. But we’re still pretty confident, especially knowing our younger girls fared well without her there.”
In addition to area squads and host Hartsville, also qualifying for the state tournament is A.C. Flora, Chapin, and Hilton Head Island, Lugoff-Elgin.
The two-day, 36-hole tournament will begin Monday morning at 9 a.m.
Carolina Forest, Socastee headed to states
Despite tough competition, both Carolina Forest and Socastee are bound for the Class 5A girls golf state tournament.
Carolina Forest finish sixth with 384, led by Sami Spencer’s 18-hole score of 85 at Monday’s Class 5A Lower State tournament played at Coosaw Creek Country Club in North Charleston. Nipping at the Panthers’ heels was Socastee, coming in seventh with a score of 398.
Finishing outside of the top eight was Conway, whose combined score of 446 did not qualify it for next week’s event.
Lexington claimed the Lower State crown with a combined 18-hole total of 312. Clemson commit Gracyn Burgess led the way with a 1-under 70 for the day.
Blythewood finished second with a score of 321, while White Knoll was not far behind with a 331. Also qualifying for a shot a state title is Ashley Ridge, Fort Dorchester and Wando.
The Class 5A girls golf championship will begin Monday morning at 9 a.m., the event being hosted by the Members Club at Wildewood in Columbia.
Aynor, Georgetown qualify for Class 3A state tourney
Bishop England and Bluffton may have come away with top honors at Monday’s Class 3A Lower State tournament, the teams tying for first place at Loris’ Diamondback Country Club.
But Aynor and Georgetown wound up with plenty to celebrate as well. The Grand Strand golf teams finished fifth and sixth at the event, respectively, earning themselves a place at the table for next Monday’s state tournament at Carolina Springs Golf Club in Fountain Inn.
The Blue Jackets — who finished with a 399 — were led by Mary Kate Richardson, who shot an 81 for the day. As for Georgetown, it had a combined score of 409, with Caroline Smith’s 18-hole total of 93 propelling it to the next round of competition.
Loris and Waccamaw also took part in Monday’s festivities, shooting a 500 and 465, respectively, not good enough to advance.
Joining the group at next week’s state tournament are May River, McBee and Oceanside Academy.