By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BELDEN – The conditions were nasty – steady drizzle, a rain-soaked course – but nothing could put a damper on Tupelo High School’s day.
The Golden Wave, behind the steady play of Austin Rose, won its sixth straight state championship in high school golf Thursday at the Tupelo Country Club, capturing the MHSAA Class 6A title.
Tupelo’s two-day team total was 296-299 – 595. Madison Central was 28 strokes back at 316-307 – 623. Oak Grove was third at 327-324 – 651.
Rose, a junior, shot a 66-68 for a two-day total of 10-under-par 134 to capture state medalist honors. Teammate Hayden Buckley was third overall with a 70-71 – 142.
“The six in a row is pretty solid,” Rose said. “I’m glad to put a (medalist) victory up, too. That’s the best I’ve ever played in a two-day tournament.”
DeSoto Central’s Braden Thornberry was second overall with a 70-69 – 139.
“What Austin did was awesome,” Tupelo golfer Miles Johnson said. “We can’t thank him enough. He put the team on his back this tournament.”
Also for Tupelo, Kirk Reeder recorded a 79-81 – 160, Johnson 84-78 – 162 and Blake Harris 81-85 – 166.
Rose took his score to 11-under-par, but bogeyed on No. 18 to finish his round. He recorded five birdies on the front nine to post a 31.
“What Austin did on back-to-back days is impressive,” Tupelo coach Mark Enis said. “He jumped out early Wednesday then kept the pedal to the metal.”
Rose sank a 30-footer for birdie on No. 8 to go to 5-under for the day and 11-under for the tournament.
Moments later, however, he missed about a 10-foot putt for birdie.
He recorded eight straight pars on the back before closing with a three-putt on No. 18. By that time, the win was his.
Jim Rose, the former TCC golf professional, was all smiles following his son’s closing round.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was fun to watch him. He’s had the tools. It’s been a thrill to see him mature and play.
“He was striking the ball phenomenal yesterday. He didn’t hit it as well today, but he made his putts. That’s what you have to do … and for two days, he did that.”