Walker Isley finished in fourth place and helped lead the South Brunswick golf team to a tie for fifth place in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3A state golf tournament May 13-14 at the Foxfire Golf Club Red Fox Course in Jackson Springs.
The individual and team results continued a tradition of excellent golf at South. According to the NCHSAA, this was the Cougars’ 10th appearance in the boys’ tournament and their highest finish since they won the Class 1A/2A state title in 1993. In that year, the Cougars defeated Farmville Central on the second hole of a playoff to win the team championship.
The finish this year was unlikely but celebratory, considering two players were sick in the second round and two others were severely injured in a fatal car wreck two summers ago.
“The odds have been against us for a little while,” South coach Jeff Register said. “These guys have been resilient. They really have. They’ve pulled through and they stuck together.”
Isley, a junior, shot 72-76—148 in finishing 4 over par and four strokes out of first place on the 6,755-yard course. Clayton senior Brady Hooks shot 72-72—144 in winning the tournament. Two Charlotte Catholic golfers — junior Jack Heath and senior Drew Hackett — tied for second, shooting a 147.
“I could have played better the first day,” Isley said. “I probably had 15 three-putts the last two days. If I could have two-putted all of those...”
In the second round, Isley shot 40-36. He scored one birdie on each nine: the 189-yard par-3 eighth and the 386-yard par-4 16th. He eagled the 477-yard par-5 14th, getting some revenge.
“The first day I double bogeyed it,” he said. In the second round, Isley used a hybrid from 215 yards and the ball stopped 10 feet from the hole.
Isley played in the two-day tournament despite a sore throat.
“The night we got up here, I started getting sick,” he said. “My throat’s been hurting, and I’ve been drowsy.”
The Cougar team had four other players in the tournament.
Sophomore Ralph Stephenson had a memorable, roller coaster second round. He shot 42-36—78, one of the lowest scores of his high school career. He said 76 or 77 was his lowest score.
But in the second round, he nearly walked off the course after playing three holes: He began double bogey, bogey, triple bogey.
“I was feeling pretty sick,” he said. “I didn’t even want to keep playing.”
He persevered, and by the end of his round he had scored six birdies. He had turned in his scorecard so he was unable to check which holes, but he was able to recall five of the birdies: the 517-yard par-5 ninth, the 323-yard par-4 10th, the 404-yard par-4 11th, the 477-yard par-5 14th and the 386-yard par-4 16th.
“I knew we needed my score,” Stephenson said. “So I tried to play as best as I could and bring it back.”
Stephenson had South’s second-lowest score in the tournament and finished tied for 35th.
Junior Jack Boldt shot 41-38—79 in the second round. He birdied the 517-yard par-5 ninth hole. He finished 38th.
Juniors Luke Boldt and Taylor Combs each shot an 85 in the second round. Combs scored three birdies: the 364-yard par-4 first, the 323-yard par-4 10th and the 573-yard par-5 12th. Boldt in the first round scored a birdie on the 419-yard par-4 second hole, making an uphill chip from 58 yards using a sand wedge
“I didn’t see it go in,” he said.
In the first round, Isley shot an even-par 72, scoring 34-38, and tied for third with Hackett. The first-round leader was Heath, who shot a 3-under 69. He scored an eagle at the par-5 ninth. Hooks was second at 2 under par. Five golfers were tied for fifth at 2 over par.
In the team standings after the first round, South was in fifth place, four strokes out of third. Stephenson shot an 80, Jack Boldt an 82, Combs an 84 and Luke Boldt a 90.
In the team competition after two rounds, South finished tied for fifth with J.H. Rose. Each team was one stroke out of fourth place (Eastern Alamance) and seven strokes out of third (Marvin Ridge). The tournament had 12 teams.
Charlotte Catholic won the team title for the second consecutive year, finishing 21 strokes ahead of Clayton.
Register is eager for the start of the 2020 season.
“The great thing about this crowd,” he said, “is I get them all back next year. And we’ll be right back here again. That is our goal.”
Jack Boldt chips the ball upward and toward to a green in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3A state golf tournament.