PEMBROKE — For the first time all season, the Purnell Swett boys golf team will have fair weather for a match, and coach Jamie Locklear hopes that his experienced team will be ready to make the most of it.
“Every Monday we play it has been bad weather,” he said. “Going to regionals we are going to have good weather and I think that can really play to our advantage.”
Tomorrow the Rams send five players to the NCHSAA Mideast regional being contested at Anderson Creek Club in Spring Lake, with four having experience playing at regionals. The forecast for tomorrow is sunny and a high of 72 degrees, a far cry from rounds in the 40s and 50s that the Sandhills Athletic Conference meets have been played in this season.
Locklear hopes that the collective experience of the regional stage, and Sandhills Athletic Conference powerhouse Pinecrest moving to the Midwest regional, could help Purnell Swett do a first for the program.
“We’ve had kids individually go, but as a team I haven’t seen a whole team make it (to states). It would mean a lot to me and to them to make it as a team,” Locklear said. “Each year we go down there and don’t perform well. I told them that this year we are going to have fun.”
All but one of the Rams teeing it up tomorrow will have experience on the course after playing Anderson Creek last year in the rainy conditions that produced high scores.
Locklear has two seniors playing possibly their last tournament in Dustin Paul and Dakota Locklear. Locklear is playing in this fourth regional tournament, while Paul is making his third appearance.
“I want to make it to states. I don’t know what I have to shoot, probably mid-70s,” Paul said. “At least 77, that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Locklear’s lowest round at regionals is a 77, and he said that this time around he is more prepared to take on the regions top golfers.
“My game is not quite right where it needs to be, but it is better this time than it was this time last year,” Locklear said. “I would definitely like to get a low-70s round and advance to the state tournament.”
Kajun Hunt is playing at regionals for the third time in three seasons, while Tyee Seals is making his first trip as a junior.
Hunt has been the No. 1 golfer for the team this season and is hoping to keep his driver dialed in to minimize mistakes on the course. His lowest round at regionals in the first two appearances was an 87.
“I’ve had bad regionals so far, but I want to make it good this year,” Hunt said. “It’s a tight golf course so I want to keep it in the fairway. I feel like I can score if I keep it in the fairway.”
There are nerves for Seals in his first regional competition, but he is confident with how he is playing.
“I’m hitting the ball well and so is my putting,” Seals said. “I’m just trying to get a mid- to low-70s and I’ll be pretty confident with that to go to states.”
After posting a a round of 90 as a freshman last season at regionals, sophomore Silas Woods is wanting to avoid the big number in his return trip.
“I’m just trying to shoot a low score and get it down in the 70s,” Woods said. “I’ve been trying to take more deep breaths and calm down to try and get par.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.