Senior golfers looking to go out on top

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Mansfield High senior Luke Neeley is no stranger to the 5A state golf state championship.

The Tigers have reached state all three years of Neeley’s high school career – and five consecutive years overall. He helped Mansfield win a state title his sophomore year.

Yet, there’s something different this time around. Neeley and four fellow seniors are playing with more of a sense of purpose. The state tourney was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at Morris Williams Golf Course in Austin, after the press deadline.

“We really want to win – our senior year being our last year,” said Neeley, who tied for second place individually with teammate Andre Garcia at the regional meet in helping the Tigers to the team title. “We want to leave our legacy at Mansfield High School. … Now it’s just us. If we could win this year, it would be incredibly special.”

The Mansfield girls team has a chance to leave a special mark as well. The Lady Tigers finished third at regionals to make it to state. The girls team includes Tanner Wilson, the daughter of boys golf coach Trampas Wilson.

“It’s an exciting time to be a Mansfield Tiger carrying that white [golf] bag,” Wilson said of his team and the girls team both advancing to Austin. “There’s going to be a lot of Mansfield black and gold down in Austin.”

Wilson’s quintet of seniors enters state on a run of dominance. The boys team has won the team title in all six spring tournaments in which it has competed. That includes the regional tournament played under challenging weather conditions in Lubbock.

After day one of regionals, Mansfield held a five-shot lead on Southlake Carroll. But playing under blustery conditions that featured 30 mph sustained winds and wind chill of 17 degrees, the Tigers struggled a bit. Carroll forged a tie through nine holes. But led by Neeley, Mansfield dug deep to pull out the victory.

“I was extremely proud of the guys,” Wilson said.

Neeley shot a 78 on day one under fair conditions but actually shot a one-under-par 71 on the frigid second day. Neeley hasn’t gotten any longer off the tee or dramatically improved in any one area of his game. The main difference, Neeley said, is he isn’t making many crucial mistakes.

“I’ve been able to take away some of the negative things,” Neeley said. “I’m not hitting it out of bounds or having double or triple bogeys.”

Wilson said intense practice rounds that are heavy on short game drills and playing a round of 18 keep his players’ skills sharply honed.

“Our practices are harder than our tournaments,” Wilson said. “You can get embarrassed real quick if you aren’t on top of your game. If you’re not giving your all, someone else is going to step up and take your spot.”

Neeley, Garcia and fellow seniors Tyler Frederick, Will Clark and Cole Barnett have thrived on the friendly competition and as a result swing their clubs with confidence when going up against the likes of top competitors, such as Carroll and The Woodlands.

“We’ve beaten all of them and they’ve beaten us too,” Wilson said. “So let’s tee it up and see if we can beat them at state.”

Neeley feels confident his team will come through. He harbors hope of an individual state title, too. “Two years ago, I don’t think I thought that,” he said.

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