By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Hayden Buckley’s khaki-colored golf cap has five blue stars sewn on the back – one for each of the consecutive state championships Tupelo has won.
The junior golfer and his Golden Wave teammates want to make sure they add a sixth star this season.
“You don’t want to lose,” Buckley said. “You don’t want to be the one to end the streak.”
Tupelo heads into today’s opening round of the 36-hole MHSAA Class 6A golf tournament on its home course – the Tupelo Country Club – the favorite to capture a sixth straight state championship.
Madison Central, Northwest Rankin, Oak Grove and DeSoto Central are expected to challenge the Golden Wave.
Tupelo junior Austin Rose, whose father is the club’s former pro, knows the TCC course as well as any player. He believes the final three holes are tough to navigate with the pressure on.
“The last three are where it’s won or lost,” he said. “You need to manage your game and shoot low on the front. Things tighten up on the back.”
Nos. 16 – its long green protected by water – and 18 – a long hole with an uphill second shot – are both par 4s. No. 17 is a par 3 playing between 190 and 205 yards with bunkers on the right and left front of the green.
Wave coach Mark Enis believes the TCC’s Champion Bermuda greens can be the difference.
“Putting is what wins a golf tournament,” he said. “It’s all about the greens out there, especially for high school kids.”
FOUR-PEAT FOR BALDWYN?
The Baldwyn Bearcats, powered by Tucker Jenkins and Clayton Gray, are bidding to win their fourth consecutive Class 2A state championship when they tee it up today at Mississippi State’s Golf Course in Starkville.
Baldwyn had a strong showing earlier this season, finishing third behind 6A powers Tupelo and Madison Central in a match at the Tupelo Country Club.
The Bearcats, coached by Michael Gray, return their entire lineup from the 2012 title team.
EAGLES HOSTING 1A
Tupelo Christian Prep will host the Class 1A state tournament today and Thursday at Big Oak Golf Course in Saltillo.
The Class 3A tournament will be played at Lake Caroline Golf Club in Madison while the 4A tournament is at the Oaks Golf Club in Pass Christian. 5A is at the Ole Miss Golf Course in Oxford.