By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BELDEN – Mark Enis wanted to accomplish two things with the playing of Thursday’s four-team high school golf match at the Tupelo Country Club:
– Tupelo’s coach wanted his three-time defending state champion Golden Wave to play some tough competition. The opponents were 6A state contenders Madison Central and DeSoto Central, and two-time defending 4A state champion Itawamba AHS.
– He wanted his team to play an 18-hole match. Regular-season high school matches are usually nine holes while postseason matches are 18 and 36.
“This is what you want with division and state coming up,” Enis said. “We needed to play good competition and get some 18-hole matches under our belt.”
Enis also saw the Golden Wave win the match by 31 strokes with a 286 score. DeSoto Central was second at 317, followed by Madison Central 320 and IAHS 346. Tupelo’s junior varsity recorded a 338.
Tupelo’s Fletcher Johnson, a Mississippi State signee, fired a 4-under 68, closing with two birdies on the final three holes to win medalist honors.
He chipped in for birdie on 16 following a poor wedge shot, then drained a 35-foot birdie putt on 17. He nearly birdied 18, but missed a 6-foot putt.
“I didn’t get it high enough, I missed it low,” he said. “I can see my game getting better each week, but my putting has got to get better.”
Johnson finished runner-up to the individual medalist Wednesday in a tournament in Jackson. The Golden Wave placed second in the event, which was won by Heritage Academy.
“Getting to play 18 today and yesterday helps a lot,” Johnson said. “It’s always nice before the postseason to get some 18-hole rounds under your belt. This will help us.”
Tupelo’s Hayden Buckley was second to Johnson with a 1-under 71 while DeSoto Central’s Braden Thornberry was third with an even-par 72.