Toles controls Dix River, leads Bearcats to big day

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Anderson junior takes top honors in Garrard tourney

By John Herndon

It was a week of ups and downs for the boys’ golf team from Anderson County High School.

The Bearcats turned in one of their best rounds away from the home course at Wild Turkey Trace on Saturday, but the team had a down day in a loss at Scott County on Thursday.

“Maybe it was last year’s black state tournament shirts,” Anderson coach Jim Beward said of Saturday’s fifth-place finish in the Whitaker Bank Golden Lion Invitational, hosted by Garrard County High School. The tournament, held at Dix River Country, saw the Bearcats place fifth in the 16-team field, shooting a composite 324.

The Bearcats had worn last year’s state tournament shirts as a reminder of what the team could accomplish.

Junior Zachary Toles carded an even-par 71 for the individual championship, a first for an Anderson golfer away from the home course at Wild Turkey Trace in recent memory.

“This was the kind of round that we have been waiting for from Zachary,” Beward said. “This course really fits his eye and his shot shape well. He focused on every shot and had a clear sense of what needed to be done. This was easily the best job of course management that we have seen from Zachary in his Anderson County career. He putted well and his long game was as good as I have seen it.”

Toles outlasted Meade County’s Spencer Heckert by a stroke and was two strokes better than Danville’s Spencer McKinney and Taylor County’s Andrew Scalos.

As a team, no other Anderson golfer shot better than a 10-over, but it was good enough for the Top 5 finish on a day when strange things were happening on the Dix River course.

“All four of the remaining players took at least one triple-bogey in their rounds,” Beward said. “To finish in the Top 5 in a tournament while taking an 88 as one of your (four) counting scores indicates that something different occurred that day.

Jordan Morgan carded an 81 on the day followed by Hayden Elder’s 84 and Brayden Nicholson’s 88.

Two days before, the Bearcats dropped a 157-168 decision to Scott County at Cherry Blossom. Beward said the team endured a two-hour bus ride, brought on by traffic snarls on Interstate 64, then did not shoot well onced at the course.

“Our kids got off the bus not ready to play and it showed in the performance. There were too many big numbers and too little focus on the issue at hand. Both teams had to play through the rain. Scott County played and we let it get to us.”

The Bearcats also had a personal loss over the week as Morgan’s grandfather and guardian, Merle Morgan, died following a battle with bone cancer. “Merle has been a devoted follower of Bearcat golf through all of his grandsons coming through the program,” Beward said. “We had many conversations on the golf course and it was evident that he loved those grandsons and had a passion for them and for golf. Several members of the team attended Tuesday’s funeral service out of respect for him and to support Jordan. Merle will be missed and the program will honor him in the future.”

The Bearcats return to action Wednesday with a match against Collins at Shelbyville Country Club, then play Saturday at the Tates Creek Invitational, held at Tates Creek Golf Course in Lexington.

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