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There were times when it seemed like Anderson County's quest for a golf championship was headed toward a sand trap or water hazard.
The Bearcats appeared to be in trouble for much of their match with Franklin County last Wednesday, but when the scorecards were turned in, Anderson had won the North Division of the Central Kentucky Bluegrass Conference.
Despite being in some major predicaments throughout the day, the Bearcats earned a 141-145 victory that was not sealed until the final flight played the final hole.
The mission was simple.
“He told us we had to win this one (for the title),” Anderson senior Tyler Harrod said of Anderson coach Jim Beward.
There was Jordan Morgan's tee shot on No. 7 that landed behind a clump of trees. Somehow, he 9-ironed his next shot over the trees for a chance to recover. While Morgan bogeyed the hole, it could have been much worse.
Morgan, a sophomore, ended up with a 1-under 34 on the front nine to lead the Bearcats.
“Jordan made a spectacular bogey from the trees on No. 7 that could have been worse,” Beward said. “He took his medicine, put himself in position to make par and did not get frustrated when the putt lipped out.”
Tyler Harrod appeared to be in trouble on several occasions, only to recover to shoot a 35 over the nine holes.
“This was the smartest round of golf, collectively, that (the Bearcats) have played this year,” Beward said. “Among our top four scorers, there were no double bogeys and no disaster holes.”
Lee Robinson and Nick Wilson, both of whom shot one-over 36's, both endured freak shots that did not hurt the scorecards, but could have played some mind games.
On No. 7, Robinson's approach shot went well past the green. Then in trying to get his ball back on the green, he hit a telephone pole on the course. While the rules state that hitting a man-made hazard allows the golfer to drop and shoot over, Beward noted, “He could have gotten rattled but he went back, got his chip close and made par.”
Robinson's chip stopped rolling about 10 feet from the pin.
Wilson saw his tee shot on No. 8 hit an electric wire, then drop into the pond situated just in front of the green. Again, Wilson was able to shoot over, according to the rules, and made par.
“That could have been a problem,” Beward said. “Yet he put the next ball on the green and made his par.
“Tyler and Lee both made 8-footers for par on No. 8 that could have easily been bogeys when the match was still in doubt.”
Golf records are very sketchy but it appears that Anderson golf has never won a regular-season conference championship of any kind. Several years ago, the Bearcats did win the CKC Conference Tournament championship on their home course, but that lack of tradition did not deter Anderson last Tuesday.
“The 141 score for nine holes is among the three lowest in program history,” Beward said. “They did a masterful job of taking what the course and their shots provided.”
And the Bearcats defeated a team that has been right with them in several tournaments this year. “Make no mistake, this Franklin County team is very good and they did a great job on the course. Jacob Cook may be the best sophomore in the state and Will Molen played great as well. It took our best mental and physical golf of the year to make this win happen.
“Before the match, I asked the guys how much they wanted this and what they were willing to give to make the victory happen. I got an emphatic answer when Tyler Harrod fluffed a chip from just off the green on No. 3, recovered to make par and then gave a significant, for him, fist pump.
“The players were into it, had their thinking caps on and played great golf. Play like this will put them in a position to beat anyone in the state.”
Anderson goes to the regional tournament on Monday, Sept. 30 at Campbellsville Country Club.
“I remain very optimistic about the regional tournament,” Beward said. “This is the last go-round for Robinson, Harrod, Wilson and the rest of the seniors. I saw another gear in them.”
Anderson has practice rounds scheduled on the Campbellsville course for today, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 28. “The notebooks will be out and we will go to school on the course and what it offers,” Beward said.
Campbellsville is a tight course, the type that has given Anderson some problems this year. Harrod, however, is confident. “If you hit the ball straight off the tee and hit the greens, you should be fine,” he said.
Defending state champion West Jessamine is the regional favorite with the second berth in the state tournament likely to be a battle between Anderson, Taylor County, Adair County, East Jessamine and Boyle County.
“We've told the guys all season, we have a special opportunity here and it is up to us to seize the moment.”
Bearcats roll on Senior Night
Anderson routed Mercer County by 20 strokes in the Bearcats’ final home match of the 2013 season last Thursday.
Beward started five seniors, who responded “with a championship-level performance,” according to the coach.
Robinson led Anderson’s 144-164 win with an even par 35, while Wilson and Trevor Morgan both carded 36’s.
“Trevor Morgan played like I hoped he would all year,” Beward said. “A brilliant eagle on the par-5 sixth hole highlighted his round. When he stays in control of his emotions, he can play with anyone.
“Max Crabtree was even par through six holes before bogeys on the last three holes game him a 38.
Anderson finishes fifth in conference tournament
Anderson County is glad it won’t see the Tates Creek golf course again this season. The Lexington course has been the Bearcats’ nemesis, as shown again in Saturday’s CKBC Tournament. The Bearcats shot a 318 over 18 holes, just one stroke better than the Tates Creek Invitational last month.
“We just do not seem to play this course well,” Beward said. It does not fit our collective eyes and our power game.”
Robinson led Anderson with a 78, followed by Harrod’s 79. No Anderson golfer was near the top finishers. Harrod was named first team all-conference while Robinson was named second team. “Both finished in the Top 10 for stroke average and led the team throughout a successful regular season,” Beward said.
Scott County’s Billy Tom Sargent took the individual tournament championship with a 67.
“After having two straight nine-hole rounds without a double bogey, we had eight doubles (in the tournament),” Beward said. “Our approach play was not sharp. As a result, pars became bogeys and bogeys became double bogeys."