High School Sports

Moninghoff shows larger colleges he’s worth a look with Panther Invitational win

Matt Moninghoff
Matt Moninghoff ablondin@thesunnews.com

Having taken up golf in seventh grade, Blythewood High senior Matt Moninghoff has progressed quickly to earn a scholarship to play at Coker College next year.

Believing his game is still improving, he still has a lot to prove, and a win in the 25-team Panther Invitational at the General Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina is Exhibit A.

Moninghoff shot a 3-under-par 69 despite a double bogey on his final hole to win Carolina Forest High’s tournament by two strokes.

“In the back of your head you want to justify that you deserve the scholarship,” Moninghoff said. “You want to show you deserve it and maybe that you can do better than where you are and play on a better team maybe eventually in the future.”

Hilton Head Island High won the team title by five strokes over Wando of Mount Pleasant with a 10-over 298, and Carolina Forest was the top finisher among nine schools from the Grand Strand, finishing fifth at 312.

Moninghoff didn’t play well last weekend in the The Members Club Invitational – formerly the Golden Bear Invitational – at The Members Club at Woodcreek and WildeWood in the Columbia area.

But he was anxious to play the Hackler Course, where he shot a 66 in the second round of the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship last summer following an opening-round 75 to finish sixth.

“I know this course pretty well and it plays to my strengths. I like this place,” Moninghoff said. “Coming into this tournament I knew it was a place I could get if I hit it well and made some putts. I’d been making putts, it just came down to whether I kept it in play and hit good shots here and there. So the putts dropped for me today.”

He had a shot at another 66 if he could have made a birdie on the 356-yard par-4 18th hole, and he had a wedge into the green, but it spun back off the front of the putting surface into the water and he was unable to get up and down to save a bogey. He wasn’t sure at the time if the double dropped him out of the lead. “I thought there was a chance,” he said.

But his 69 was two strokes better than teammate Cole Hargett and Hilton Head junior Travis Mancill.

Moninghoff has won high school tournaments, though he’s still looking for his first significant win in junior golf.

He started breaking 70 a couple years ago and last year drew the attention of young new Coker coach Adam Goins of Gaffney, a two-time captain at USC Upstate. In addition to Coker, Moninghoff said he received interest from USC Beaufort and was offered a walk-on spot on the Wofford men’s golf team.

“I didn’t get a lot of good looks, but I thought Coker was the best spot for me because of coach Goins. He’s 24 years old, a great guy and a great player, too,” Moninghoff said. “A lot of the kids nowadays that are going to play at big places like USC took it up earlier. I’ve been picking it up and I’m kind of natural at it and I love it.”

“It relaxes me a little bit to know I have somewhere to go and not have to stress about finding a college to go to. … I would love to [go to a larger school], coach Goins might keep me there.”

Hilton Head won the Class AAA Lower State title two years ago and has recently won Region VIII-AAA championships, but the Seahawks participate in other tournaments about three or four times a year and this is their first win in those events in at least five years.

“We knew there were going to be some good teams out there this week but we just tried to stick to our game plan coming into this week, and that was to have consistent scores in the 70s and have that one guy that would punch that button,” said Mancill, who is in his fourth year on the Seahawks varsity.

The 71 matches Mancill’s lowest 18-hole high school round, tying his score in last year’s (Aynor) Blue Jacket Invitational at Black Bear Golf Club.

In addition to the runner-up finish by Mancill, who finished second in an American Junior Golf Association event in Hilton Head, the Seahawks received a 73 from Brooks Dyess and 77s from Caden Edwards, Charles Farell and Meredith Whipper, a senior who was the only girl in the tournament and is committed to play next year at the University of Findlay in Ohio.

“I’m playing with them to get better for college and get used to the distances,” said Whipper, who played the tournament’s 6,500-yard tees. “They’re all really good and it pushes me to be better. They’re all welcoming and friendly. It’s just playing golf at the end of the day.”

The Seahawks finished fourth in the AAA state tournament last year and have greater aspirations this year.

“We’re ahead of schedule this early in the season, and I think we’ll compete for [a state title] this year, legitimately,” said Hilton Head coach Rawn Grant.

Carolina Forest not only defeated all area teams entered, it also defeated all teams entered from Region VI-AAAA, and only South Florence did not participate.

Tanner Smith led the Panthers with a 74 that included a double bogey on his first hole, a pair of birdies and two bogeys. “I tried to focus on making sure I didn’t get upset or dwell on the past to help my team out as much as I could,” said Smith, who came within a shot of matching his best 18-hole high school score.

Kevin Burris added a 77 and Adam Allen a 79 for the Panthers.

“We had pretty high expectations coming into it,” Smith said. “We were going to try to win it. We didn’t play our best but we played pretty well and we’re pretty happy with the result.”

Also shooting 74s to tie for 11th individually were Karsten Kenley of St. James and Ethan Vallery of Myrtle Beach, which finished seventh as a team.

Team scores–1, Hilton Head 298; 2, Wando 303; 3, Hartsville 306; 4, Blythewood 311; 5, Carolina Forest 312; 6, Fort Dorchester 315; 7, Myrtle Beach 316; 8, Buford 325; 9, St. James 325; 10, Sumter 326; T11, Socastee 327; North Myrtle Beach 317; 13, Summerville 331; T14, West Ashley 334; West Florence 334; 16, James Island 345; 17, Carolina Forest (B) 352; T18, Conway 353; Hartsville (B) 353; 20, Fort Dorchester (B) 355; 21, Aynor 364; 22, Stratford 375; 23, Blythewood (B) 391; 24, Georgetown 393; 25, Loris 442.

Top 5 Individuals–1, Matt Moninghoff, Blythewood 69; T2, Cole Hargett, Blythewood 71; Travis Mancill, Hilton Head 71; T4, Caleb Henson, Buford 72; Zeke Steen, Hartsville 72.

Area schoolsCarolina Forest (312): Tanner Smith 74, Kevin Burris 77, Adam Allen 79, Nico Farrer 82, Joseph Lopez 83. Myrtle Beach (316): Holden Grigg 77, John David Gooden 77, Kohler Karavan 80, Seth Boyce 82, Ethan Hood 83. St. James (325): Karsten Kenley 74, Charlie Wike 83, Coleman Bess 84, Brandon Tucci 84, Mason Richardson 85. North Myrtle Beach (327): Jake Dupuis 79, McClure Thompson 81, Zack Kirtz 83, Todd Albury 84. Socastee (327): Ethan Vallery 74, Lance Vu 79, Nick Dollinger 83, Shane Peters 91, Chap Hutchinson 92. Carolina Forest B (339): Parker Stoncil 87, Bowan Davis 87, Dillon Griffin 87, Alex Hawley 91, Zachary Nikel 129. Conway (353): Brady Fulmer 83, Cliff Todd 88, Chase Cannon 89, Conner Thomas 93, Nick Harrington 93. Aynor (364): Max Roberts 88, Colin Peavy 92, Brandon Barnett 92, Owen Barnhill 92, Dalton Gosque 106. Georgetown (393): Patrick Walsh 78, James Gore 90, Trace Adams 108, Marcus Reid 117, Chase Baker 144. Loris (442): Dawson Pickford 101, Lukas Little 110, Tre’Quan Bellamy 111, Kyle Dirmyer 120, Zachary Campbell 147.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

Teams

1, Hilton Head 298; 2, Wando 303; 3, Hartsville 306; 4, Blythewood 311; 5, Carolina Forest 312; 6, Fort Dorchester 315; 7, Myrtle Beach 316; 8, Buford 325; 9, St. James 325; 10, Sumter 326; T11, Socastee 327; North Myrtle Beach 317; 13, Summerville 331; T14, West Ashley 334; West Florence 334; 16, James Island 345; 17, Carolina Forest (B) 352; T18, Conway 353; Hartsville (B) 353; 20, Fort Dorchester (B) 355; 21, Aynor 364; 22, Stratford 375; 23, Blythewood (B) 391; 24, Georgetown 393; 25, Loris 442.

Top 5 Individuals

1, Matt Moninghoff, Blythewood 69; T2, Cole Hargett, Blythewood 71; Travis Mancill, Hilton Head 71; T4, Caleb Henson, Buford 72; Zeke Steen, Hartsville 72.

Area schools

Carolina Forest (312): Tanner Smith 74, Kevin Burris 77, Adam Allen 79, Nico Farrer 82, Joseph Lopez 83. Myrtle Beach (316): Holden Grigg 77, John David Gooden 77, Kohler Karavan 80, Seth Boyce 82, Ethan Hood 83. St. James (325): Karsten Kenley 74, Charlie Wike 83, Coleman Bess 84, Brandon Tucci 84, Mason Richardson 85. North Myrtle Beach (327): Jake Dupuis 79, McClure Thompson 81, Zack Kirtz 83, Todd Albury 84. Socastee (327): Ethan Vallery 74, Lance Vu 79, Nick Dollinger 83, Shane Peters 91, Chap Hutchinson 92. Carolina Forest B (339): Parker Stoncil 87, Bowan Davis 87, Dillon Griffin 87, Alex Hawley 91, Zachary Nikel 129. Conway (353): Brady Fulmer 83, Cliff Todd 88, Chase Cannon 89, Conner Thomas 93, Nick Harrington 93. Aynor (364): Max Roberts 88, Colin Peavy 92, Brandon Barnett 92, Owen Barnhill 92, Dalton Gosque 106. Georgetown (393): Patrick Walsh 78, James Gore 90, Trace Adams 108, Marcus Reid 117, Chase Baker 144. Loris (442): Dawson Pickford 101, Lukas Little 110, Tre’Quan Bellamy 111, Kyle Dirmyer 120, Zachary Campbell 147.

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