Constant high expectations for Nelson golf

Posted Monday, Sep. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Success presents its own problems. It didn’t take Byron Nelson golf long to prove this true.

In their short existence as a school and varsity sport, the Bobcats have already set the standard and garnered a state championship.

Now, heading into another season, nothing has changed in terms of expectations, regardless of the defending 4A girls champions’ loss of three players.

The boys team is even poised to improve upon their fourth-place finish at the state meet last year.

The Bobcats boys have already placed fourth at the Antigua National High School Invitational in Scottsdale, Ariz., and second place at the prestigious Bart Granger tournament. In fact, they were the top-placing 4A team at the 54-team tournament at Granger.

“We’ve been going (to Granger) for four years and we’ve been getting better each time,” head coach Barry Hawkins noted, saying they’ve placed, in order, 24th, 10th, fourth and now second .

Leading the contingent is junior Johnny Jones, who won the Granger tournament. He shot a 2-under par on each of the two days to win.

Jones, an early commit to play at Texas Tech, said the high expectations just come with the territory at Nelson, situated in a strong golf community.

“The high expectations are more than any year since I’ve been here,” Jones said.

The Bobcats have a deep enough roster that Jones and Hawkins feel this could be the year for the boys to match the girls’ feat.

“Anyone can shoot under par,” Jones said. “We just have to do it on the course. We have some really good players and the top five guys are all good friends. If we’re not on course, we’re hanging out together. It helps push everyone to do your best. I know if I’m struggling, the other four guys will support me. They’re all great players and we like to compete amongst us for the top spot,” Jones said.

Joining Jones is Hayden Springer, another junior, and three seniors – Ryan Johnson, a qualifier at every tournament; Ty Hazelwood and Bryan Rogers.

Hawkins said that while the boys believe they can win at state, the girls have been there and know what it takes.

“It helps to live in golf club community and kids want to be in a winning program. Winning does that,” Hawkins said, noting that last year, Nelson had seven separate teams. Two girls squads qualified to play in the regional meet last year.

The girls team played its first tournament last weekend at Harbor Lakes in Granbury and shot the low round on the second day to place third overall.

“We want to give the kids experience,” Hawkins said. “That helps us get stronger and stronger.”

The two returning girls for Nelson are Alexandra Batista and Aimee Mires. Batista shot 4-over at Granbury and finished 3rd overall.

“They are the leaders and it’s a big job,” Hawkins said of the girls. “The four that graduated help establish the tradition and helped set the expectations.”

Those stepping in include Katy Burriss, Samantha Smallwood and move-in Sabrina Steadman.

Mires, a senior, said the girls team is still riding the wave of a state championship, but knows much is still expected.

“It was a great experience from last year,” Mires said. “But there are still big expectations for the team this year.”

Mires noted having a strong second team last year, helped prepare girls to be able to step up this year.

“It’s a vital year for the future of our team,” Mires said. “It’s a great experience for the new varsity girls to build their experiences. And, it’s my senior year and it’s happening way too fast.”

It’s a long road until the district and regional meets in April and the state tournament at the end of April.

“It’s just September, but now is what builds for the postseason,” Hawkins said. “We expect to win district and regionals and give ourselves a chance.

“We fully expect to be there,” Hawkins said. “We’ve done our work and have high expectations to be at state and win.”

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