State tourney jitters hinder Gillis’ game

-A A +A
By John Herndon

Getting to the state tournament is supposed to be a big deal.

That is why it is not unusual for participants, no matter what sport, to have jitters when they get there.

Now, Taylor Gillis knows that feeling up close and personal.

After a strong practice round last Monday, the Anderson County junior found herself at 6-over just three holes into the state high school golf tournament held at Bowling Green Country Club. She eventually settled in, but rain that interrupted, then delayed, the tournament disrupted her rhythm.

While Gillis finished with a respectable 93 for her 18 holes, it was seven strokes off the first day cut.

Caldwell County freshman Emma Talley won the individual championship with an astonishing two-day score of 134, 10 under par.

“I was very nervous for the first few holes, which caused me to get off to a bad start,” Gillis said.

Starting her round at No. 10, Gillis double bogeyed that hole, bogeyed No. 11, then triple bogeyed No. 14.

Gillis experienced the same feeling of a basketball player walking on the Rupp Arena floor for the Sweet 16 or a baseball player whose team had made it to Applebee’s Park. “I felt very honored to be able to represent Anderson County in the state tournament,” she said.

“When I arrived at the course Tuesday, everything finally sunk in that I was there, the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever been around.

“There were tons of people from all over the state, there were bleachers set up on the course behind a few of the greens. The atmosphere was indescribable. It was extremely tense.”

“Once I settled down, I had my best hole on No. 14,” she said of her only birdie of the day.

“I birdied the hole, which encouraged me more, but on the eighth hole (No. 17), it began to rain, which affected me.”

Gillis played four more holes before lightning was spotted, delaying the tournament for three hours. When play resumed, Gillis took a 9 on the 468-yard, par-5 fifth hole. She said the problem was “a horrible tee shot.”

She regrouped but was unable to mount a strong enough rally to make the first day cut.

“I was very disappointed to shoot a 93, because I had such a great practice round,” she said. “But playing in the conditions I played in taught me a lot.

“Also, being down there, I met a lot of great girls and made a lot of new friends. Playing against the best girls in the state pushes me more, because being there, I learned what makes them so good.

“I’m very determined to practice hard all winter long and push myself so next year, i can go back to the state and play to my ability.”

White misses cut

in boys’ tourney

Anderson County sophomore Joseph White shot an 83 in the first round of the boys’ state golf tournament and did not make the cut to return for a second day of play. An attempt to reach Anderson head coach Will Carlton for more information before press deadlines were unsuccessful.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.