With winds gusting to near 20 miles per hour, the conditions didn’t appear to be favorable for a breakout performance for South Forsyth’s golf team at the Region 7-AAAA championship tournament.
But that is exactly what happened Monday at the Laurel Springs Golf Course, as the War Eagles bared down and gutted out a team score of 315 to earn a second place finish behind champion John’s Creek, and a trip to the Class AAAA state tournament, May 7 in Augusta. South edged out county rival Lambert by three strokes.
“I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with Lambert all season,” South head coach Matt Loveless said. “They are super talented and their team is made up of great kids. But I couldn’t be more proud of our team. Would I call this an upset? Yes, I would.”
Loveless said he has been waiting for his team to play with confidence this season. He said the windy conditions actually provided the perfect setting for that to happen.
“I was really excited when I saw the conditions because weather equalizes talent,” Loveless said. “In conditions like this, you have to display a lot of [mental] toughness, and we did that today.”
One example was the play of low scorer Miles Smith. The senior led the way for the War Eagles with a 76.
“Miles has been right on the cusp of playing extremely well,” Loveless said. “He has one of the best swings on the team and he really bombs it. He’s been shooting around 79-80. But [Monday] he had this steely look in his eyes. He was really focused all day long and handled the weather with real moxie.”
Another illustration of South’s focus was the 20-foot putt junior Drew Latini’s drained on the final whole to drop his score to 80, the third best of the round for the War Eagles. The other two scores were posted by freshman Nick Mineo (77) and junior Drew Schmidt (82). Senior Josh Hill posted an 83, while sophomore Grant Young shot an 85.
“One of the things I tell the kids is that it’s hard to be confident all the time,” Loveless said. “And golf is a game that will really challenge that. But you have to find a way to fight through that, and I think we did that [Monday].”
South’s trip to the state tournament is the 10th since Loveless took over the program in 1999. The War Eagles finished fifth last season, three spots behind state runner-up Johns Creek and four behind state champion Glynn Academy. South has never finished worse than sixth under Loveless.
“Just like last season, we’ve really started to play well over our last three tournaments or so,” Loveless said. “We keep getting better and better. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Loveless said Johns Creek is the team to beat, with Glynn Academy, Columbia and Greenbriar all in the mix as well. But he thinks his team has a shot, too.
“On any given day, we can win a state championship,” Loveless said. “These seniors really wanted to make it back and I’m excited for them.”