Tremendous trio keeps Tupelo on track for another state golf title

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo High School’s boys golf team will play for a fourth consecutive state championship May 10-11 at the Tupelo Country Club.
The Golden Wave will be solid favorites to win for three reasons – players Fletcher Johnson, Wilson Reeder and Noah West. Johnson, a senior, is the team’s on-the-course leader, but Reeder and West, both juniors, are not far behind.
“Noah and Wilson would be No. 1 on any other team in the state,” THS coach Mark Enis said. “These guys are very competitive. They pull for each other, but they also want to beat each other.”
Enis has a lot of confidence in his team’s three stars, too.
“If I didn’t show up for practice, they would take over and start practicing,” he said. “Those three guys know what to do. They have a plan.”
Johnson, a Mississippi State signee, claimed his biggest prize last summer when he won the prestigious 2010 State Amateur Championship.
West, an Ole Miss commitment, also had summer success, winning the AJGA Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Open in Waynesboro, Mo., in August.
On the high school links, Reeder is the main reason the Golden Wave captured its third straight state title last spring. He fired a blistering 3-under-par 29, thanks to a six-birdie run, on the back nine at Cherokee Valley Golf Club in Olive Branch to help THS take a 5-shot win.
They have opened the 2011 spring season with three consecutive team victories, along with help from freshmen teammates Austin Rose and Hayden Buckley, and senior Sam Warren.
West, the only one of the three who started as a seventh grader in a state tournament, likes the team’s chances of defending its championship a fourth straight season.
“We have the experience,” he said. “We just need to have the same confidence we’ve had the last three years.”
The Daily Journal recently sat down with each of the golfers to talk about their individual golf games and the season. Here’s what they had to say:
What club is your favorite?
Fletcher: The driver. I always feed off my driver. If can put the ball in play, I feel like I can score.
Noah: I’d have to say my driver. I hit my drives straight and I’m always consistent. I don’t miss many fairways.
Wilson: It would definitely be my 7-iron. That’s always been my favorite.

What is the toughest club for you?
Fletcher: Right now, I’m struggling with the putter. It’s been pretty streaky. I’m starting to see some bright spots.
Noah: The putter. I haven’t been putting that well.
Wilson: My putter.

What type of hole plays to your strength?
Fletcher: I like to shape a ball left to right, so a hole working left to right.
Noah: Probably a dogleg right, because I hit a little cut – a fade – off the tee.
Wilson: I play a draw, so usually a dogleg left plays to my advantage.

What type of hole is more of a challenge?
Fletcher: One that’s tight driving. I have to hit a slight draw off the tee.
Noah: A hole that’s long off the tee or a straight-away hole with trees on both sides.
Wilson: The par 3s, especially the short par 3s. My wedge play hasn’t been very good lately.

What are your favorite type greens to play?
Fletcher: I love Champion Bermuda, but up North they have bent grass greens. I played on bent grass greens this summer in Wisconsin. They don’t get much better than that.
Noah: I like playing bent grass greens when they’re good ones.
Wilson: I really like bent grass, but I rarely get to play on it.

What part of your game do you work on the most?
Fletcher: I’m working on my short to mid irons. I probably should work more on my wedge play.
Noah: I work on my short game because it’s the most important part – putting and chipping from 100 yards in.
Wilson: Right now, I’m working on my short game. Everything else has been good. I hope I don’t jinx myself.

What are your goals in golf?
Fletcher: Hopefully, to play beyond college and play professionally. If my game continues to progress, I feel like I have a pretty good opportunity to.
Noah: I’d like to have a successful college career and play on the PGA Tour.
Wilson: I would like to play Division I college golf and on some professional tour one day.

What needs to happen for this THS team to win a fourth consecutive state championship?
Fletcher: All of us need to stick to our games. Everybody on this team can potentially play in our top five.
Noah: We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep practicing and working hard.
Wilson: We can’t be arrogant about our past success. We have to keep our minds on what we need to do.

What do you enjoy most about playing high school golf?
Fletcher: I like the team aspect. It’s fun. Also, it gets you ready for the summer season and for playing college golf.
Noah: Playing on a team is a lot of fun. I like the team chemistry part.
Wilson: I like the team concept. You’re not out there playing as an individual.

What’s the best tip you could give a younger golfer?
Fletcher: Work ethic is the key. You have to practice to be good.
Noah: I’d tell them to practice your short game. My teacher tells me golf’s 70 percent short game and 30 percent hitting the ball.
Wilson: People often pressure you to work harder, take it serious. I’d say to just have fun and enjoy playing.

Noah West
High school medalist wins:
8-plus
Best competitive score: 9 holes: 31, 18 holes: 68
Ball:
Titleist Pro V 1x
Irons: Mizuno MP-62
Driver: Titleist 905R
Putter: Cleveland
PGA pro: David Toms
State course: Old Waverly
National course: Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, S.C.
In my bag: Putter, driver, 3 wood, 19 degree hybrid, 4 iron through pitching wedge, 52 degree gap wedge, 56 degree sand wedge, 60 degree lob wedge
Superstitions: Use only a quarter for spots

Fletcher Johnson
High school medalist wins:
8-plus
Best competitive score: 9 holes: 32, 18 holes: 68
Ball:
Titleist Pro V 1x
Irons: Titleist 710 MB
Driver: Titleist 909 D2
Putter: Rife
PGA pro: Bob Estes
State course: Country Club of Jackson
National course: Southern Hills, Tulsa, Okla.
In my bag: Putter, driver, 3 wood, 20.5 degree hybrid, 4 iron through pitching wedge, 52 degree gap wedge, 56 degree sand wedge, 60 degree lob wedge
Superstitions: None

Wilson Reeder
High school medalist wins:
8-plus
Best competitive score: 9 holes: 29, 18 holes: 69
Ball:
Titleist Pro V 1x
Irons: Titleist AP2
Driver: Titleist 909
Putter: Odyssey 2 ball
PGA pro: Fred Couples
State course: Reunion in Jackson
National course: Squire Creek, Ruston, La.
In my bag: Putter, driver, 3 wood, 19 degree hybrid, 4 iron through pitching wedge, 54 degree wedge, 58 degree wedge
Superstitions: Uses only quarters and dimes for spots; always marks over Titleist on ball with a Sharpie.