• 59°

Owens going after top prize at Class 3A state golf meet

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Perhaps more so than in any other high school competition, the state golf meet is an event where any player can finish anywhere from first place to last place on a given day.
Based on his past experience and the way he is playing right now, T.R. Miller Tigers sophomore Tripp Owens has a lot more going for him than most of the Class 3A state entries.
Owens earned his state berth with a second place finish at the Montgomery Section 1 Tournament where he shot an even par 72. The state meet will be held in Huntsville Monday and Tuesday.
"I think Tripp has a realistic chance of winning it and I think he would be disappointed if he wasn't at least among the top five," T.R. Miller coach Greg Ennis said. "Golf is so unpredictable. Somebody who hasn't played particularly well all season might shoot the round of his life that day or somebody who has played well all season could have an off day. As a player, you can only control what you do. You have no control over what anybody else does."
This will be the second straight year Owens has qualified for the state meet. Last year Owens came away with a ninth place finish as a freshman.
"It's a different course than the one I played last year at state, but I think the overall experience I got will help me the second time around. I've got a lot better idea of what to expect," Owens said.
In addition to just the competition he has seen during high school competition, Owens has competed in multiple tournament events in the Robert Trent Jones circuit.
"There is no substitute for the experience Tripp has picked up playing in those tournaments. He is used to pressure situations and that should be a big advantage for him at state," Ennis said.
Owens has never played the state course, but he plans to get in a practice round at the facility this weekend.
"From what I've been told, it's a pretty wide open course. That works against me a little bit. I like a course that is pretty tight because I usually hit the ball straight," Owens said.
Ennis said Owens' consistency has been probably his biggest strength so far.
"Trent hits the ball pretty well and he keeps it in play. He also doesn't let bad holes bother him. If he makes a mistake, he puts it behind him when the next hole starts. Probably the one thing that he needs to work on the most right now is his putting," Ennis said.
Owens agrees with that assessment.
"My putting is a little streaky. I missed some short putts at the Section Meet, which wound up costing me the championship (by one stroke to Montgomery Academy's Walker Stinson). I just need to focus a little more on those attempts," Owens said.
In addition to putting, Owens said another key for him at state is getting off to a good start.
"There are two 18-hole rounds and you've got time to bounce back from a bad hole or two, but you can't get yourself buried. It's too hard to come back," Owens said.
While his immediate focus is this week's state performance, Owens is thinking about down the road a little bit.
"It's just one meet, but a good state meet would certainly help my marketability for college when that time comes," Owens said.