One last chance?

Published 9:59 pm Monday, May 15, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Owens, fellow Tigers look for big charge at upcoming state golf meet –
An individual era will end this week when T.R. Miller's Tripp Owens makes his fourth straight and final appearance in the Class 3A state golf meet.
It could also be the end of another era, a team era. The Tigers will be making their second straight team appearance in the state competition and will try to improve on last season's sixth place finish. The future of the program after this week is cloudy because all five of T.R. Miller's players are seniors.
Owens has finished in the top 10 at the state meet three years in a row. Owens finished ninth as a freshman and third the last two seasons.
Owens has a familiar roadblock in front of him in his quest to win the state championship, Montgomery Academy's Hunter Hamrick. Hamrick won the individual state title last season and beat Owens by one shot for individual top honors at the Section Meet held at Montgomery's Lagoon Park. Lagoon Park is also Hamrick's and Montgomery Academy's home course.
The proof of Owens' words can be found in his state performance the last two years. Owens had a score of 155 two years ago as a sophomore and finished one shot back. Last season as a junior he improved that score by three strokes to 152, but finished five shots back of the lead.
Owens hopes the location of this year's state meet, which will be held Monday and Tuesday at Magnolia Grove Course in Mobile, helps his chances.
While Owens, who has led T.R. Miller in scoring every meet except one since the start of his freshman season, feels his drives are a big part of his success, he feels his iron shots are his other strength.
When Owens went to state as a freshman and sophomore, he went as an individual player. Last year he went as part of a team.
Owens is not the lone T.R. Miller player with state experience. James Dixon and Brooks Fussell also competed in last year's state meet. Dixon was 34th last year and Fussell was 44th. It will be the first state competition for T.R. Miller's other two players, Clay Parker and Hayes Martin.
Kim Owens said while Tripp Owens has not talked much about winning the state title, improvement on last year's team finish has been a frequent topic of discussion.
T.R. Miller qualified for the state meet with its second place finish at the Montgomery Section Meet.
Some may say the Tigers got a free pass to the state tournament because the state takes the top two teams from section meets and there were only two teams at Montgomery, the Tigers and champion Montgomery Academy.
Tee times have been announced for Monday's opening day of competition. Fussell will be the first Tiger to tee off at 11:12 a.m. Parker will begin at 11:21 a.m. followed by Martin at 11:30 a.m., Dixon at 11:39 a.m. and Owens at 11:48 a.m.