Golf Tigers banking on experience for big season
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Experience does not guarantee success. On the flip side, it sure can not hurt and it is something the T.R. Miller Tigers golf team hopes to take advantage of this season.
For all intent, this year's T.R. Miller squad is the same as last year's with only a couple of exceptions. Junior Hayes Peaces has joined carryovers Tripp Owens, David Stokes, Matt Fraser, James Dixon, Brooks Fussell and Clay Parker. Stokes and Fraser are seniors, while the rest are juniors.
The other change is at the commander position where Kim Owens has succeeded Greg Ennis as the program's coach. The new T.R. Miller skipper does have a personal interest in the squad since she is the mother of Tripp Owens.
"I view myself more as a sponsor than as a coach, but I've developed a love for golf over the years because of Tripp's involvement. That's something I never thought I would have when I was growing up because my favorite sport back then was tennis," Owens said. "It's actually probably easier having my son on the team. I've gotten to know a lot of the boys through Tripp and I'm usually at the matches anyway because of him."
There will be a huge spotlight on the younger Owens, especially when postseason arrives. A year ago Tripp Owens fell one stroke shy of at least a share of the Class 3A individual state championship.
"Tripp really hasn't talked much about going after the state championship. It will be tough. It's tough just to get to the state meet. If you aren't on one of the top two teams in the Section Meet, they only take the top two other individuals to state. If you're off your game just a little bit at the Section Meet, you probably won't make it as an individual. We'll just see what happens when that times comes," Coach Owens said. "Tripp has a good, all-around game. He is consistent and has the experience. He knows what to do when he needs to do it."
The T.R. Miller skipper would prefer to take a squad to the state meet rather than an individual.
"I think we've got a chance. We've got a lot of experience and I think we've got some good players. It also comes down to how you perform that one day at the Section Meet. Quite frankly, what you do in the regular season doesn't matter," Coach Owens said.
Owens looks for good contributions from her two seniors, Stokes and Fussell.
"David has shown a lot of leadership and he plays with determination. He has had a lot going on lately with spring football practice and the senior play. He has had to play a lot on his own time. David is committed to success and has a positive attitude," Owens said. "Matt has a great work ethic. He has put a lot of time into the sport and I see improvement in his game every day. Matt plays with a lot of determination and is a fine golfer."
Owens also hopes last year's experience will help the returning juniors Dixon, Fussell and Parker.
"James is a good, all-around player. He has a smooth swing and seems to feel comfortable on the course. His strength is a strength. I look for a good season from him," Owens said. "Brooks has been driving the ball and hits the irons well. He plays relaxed on the course. Clay shows good course management and thinks well while he is on the course. He plays everything one shot at a time."
Meanwhile the newcomer, Peace, hopes to overcome one of the returning six players for a spot in the lineup.
"Hayes is still learning the game, but I've been encouraged out of what I've seen from him. He is a hard worker, Owens said. "I'm happy to have Hayes as that seventh player. It puts pressure on somebody for a spot in the lineup. It also gives us some depth in case of injury or sickness. That hurt us last season at the Section Meet when
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we only had four players because two of them came down sick and couldn't compete."
T.R. Miller Tigers
Mar. 10 Greenville Home 2:30 p.m.
Mar. 17 Thomasville Home 3:30 p.m.
Mar. 22 Baldwin County Away 3 p.m.
Apr. 5 Baldwin County/Monroe County Home 3 p.m.
Apr. 11 At Monroe County w/Thomasville 3 p.m.
Apr. 12 Greenville Away 2 p.m.
Apr. 18 Greenville/Monroe County Home 1:30 p.m.
Apr. 28 Section Tournament at Montgomery
May 9-10 State Tournament at Auburn
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