The Moore American

April 2, 2014

SaberCats grab Norman links title

American Staff
The Moore American

MOORE — The start to the prep golf season has been a good one for the Southmoore boys. After a top-10 showing March 25 at the Jimmie Austin in which they scored better than both Jenks and Tulsa Union, the SaberCats came back Monday and won the annual Norman High tournament at the Trails.

“We are just looking forward to a good year,” Southmoore coach Mike McConville said. “We went to state last year as a team. We have the goal of making it to state again as a team and improving on that. And by the way the seasons has started so far, it looks like we can do it.”

Norman High golf coach Bruce Renfroe opted to change up the normal high school golf tournament format. It gave him more time with his players and his players more time with each other. Still, it was Southmoore that enjoyed it the most.

Just 18 holes, Renfroe went with the “Maxwell” format, taken from the collegiate tournament played for years and years at Ardmore’s Dornick Hills.

Rather than No. 1 players playing with other No. 1 players, and No. 2 players with other No. 2 players, and so on and so on, teams went out together, five in a group, accompanied by their coach or an official, just to make sure there’s no funny business.

“It’s kind of a longer day for the coaches because they have to be with their team the whole day,” Renfroe said. “There’s no grading papers in the clubhouse.”

Also, rather than kicking out the low score of the five when the round is over, the low score of the five is kicked out on each hole. The sum of the remaining four is counted. It’s a five-man best ball with one score tossed aside.

Anyway, it worked for the SaberCats, who posted an 18-over par total on a windy day on Norman’s tightest and probably most unforgiving golf course.

John-Crawford Counts and Bryce Fanning led the charge, both carding 76s to finish first and second, in that order, in the medalist standings.

“We wanted to go play in a playoff on No. 18,” said Fanning, a sophomore, who carded a 1-under 71 in the final round of last week’s Timberwolves Invitational at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

Instead, a “scorecard playoff” ensued. As the No. 1 handicap hole on the course, it was what Counts and Fanning did on the par 4 ninth hole that mattered. Counts was better on the ninth and was therefore crowned the individual champ.

Despite losing his ball on No. 10 after what he thought was one of his best swings of the day, NHS’ Turner Howe finished third with a 77.

In addition to his teammates and coach, Howe had somebody else walking the course and watching him play. That was Chris Wilson, assistant golf coach at the Air Force Academy.

Howe remained relaxed.

“I played pretty solid,” Howe said. “I had my short game today.”

Though he lost his drive on 10, he still made a bogey 5 on the hole, taking just three strokes after returning to the tee after not finding his ball. The shot that hurt him the most, though, came on the next hole, an approach into the creek on No. 11.

“You’re going to have a couple of misses in this wind,” Howe said, “and I had a couple of misses in the wrong place.”

After Southmoore,  Edmond North was next at 304, followed by Edmond Memorial at 307, Norman North at 317, Moore at 320 and NHS at 326.

Yukon, Westmoore, Mustang and a second team from NHS lagged behind.

North managed its fourth-place finish without necessarily sending it’s ‘A’ team. Holden Young led the T-Wolves with a 78.

A good time was had by most.Moore coach Ryan Dukes wasn’t pleased with his team posting a 334 on the day. Even though Jake Huber (80) and Jeff Whitson (81) were a couple of strokes away from sub-80 rounds, he was hoping to see better.

“We are young,” Dukes said. “Lack of experience. We’ve got a lot of sophomore, a lot of juniors with not a lot of tournament experience. Just a matter of putting them in the situations out on the course under tournament pressure. It’s our third tournament and it’s kind of been the same thing. Just trying to get above that hump of lack of experience.”