High School Golf
Cougars, Indians welcome chance to play 18
by Doug Gorman
The third annual Cougar Invitational Golf Tournament at Orchard Hills Country Club really came down to a battle for second place.
That’s because Walton’s ‘A’ team dominated the field with low medalists John Yi and Matthew Flynn both finishing as the only golfers under par.
Yi won the individual title by firing a 3-under 69, while Flynn ended 18 holes at 1-under 71 to finish second.
Their scores helped Walton shatter the three-year old tournament’s team score record by seven strokes with a 289.
McIntosh (314) barely edged Newnan (315) by a stroke, though both teams took home trophies for their efforts.
Newnan went into the third-annual tournament, sponsored by Keith Ross and Country Financial, minus standout Jordan Henry, who was on a recruiting trip Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton before playing in a junior event in Brunswick.
“It might have been a different story had Jordan been here, but it was still a good day for us,” Newnan head coach Jeff Bryant said.
Carson Vaughn helped the Cougars keep pace on the field with a 75 to turn in Newnan’s top score.
Teammates Max Matistic, Tyler Cook and Preston Wise each fired rounds of 80 for the Cougars.
“It was a good day for us,” Bryant said. “We were missing one of our best golfers, but it gave some of our younger guys plenty of experience.
East Coweta finished seventh in the nine team field, shooting a 364.
Hamp Morris turned in the best score of the day for the Indians with an 82. Kyle Carter finished the round with an 89.
Both Newnan and East Coweta have been fighting issues with the weather and haven’t had too much time on the golf course this spring.
However, Newnan brings back an experienced squad after going to the state tournament last year.
“We didn’t have a really good showing at state, but we do have some experience coming back,” Bryant said
Vaughn has already signed with West Georgia and Henry has college golf in his future.
“Carson and Jordan either one can go one or two,” Bryant said. “They bring back a lot of experience and we are counting on them for a big year.”
Matistic, a junior, also has experienced a trip to the state tournament.
Newnan will rely also on Cook, Taylor, Lanier Sealy, and Aaron Sweatmann to give the team experience, but Bryant is also excited about the prospect of having freshman Preston Wise around for more years.
“Preston really has a bright future,” Bryant said.
East Coweta brings back an inexperienced team.
Morris is the only returner from last year’s team.
Seniors Kyle Carter and John Vitale are first-year varsity players.
Austin Bellamy will play on available dates when he’s not pitching for the Indians’ baseball team.
Newcomers for East Coweta include Matthew Feldman, Dylan Faison and Kevin Min Kim while 14-year-old standout Carson Whitton, an eighth-grader at Lee, waits in the wings.
“We are really young,” head coach Jason Tidwell said. “The kids have a really good feel for it and a really good work ethic.”
Tidwell said Newnan’s tournament is a big help to gain early experience against some top flight programs.
“It’s 18 holes. It’s walking all day. It’s learning how to keep score. It is just a great learning experience,” he said.
Bryant also coaches the girls team with Hayley Luna and Lauren Starnes bringing the most experience back to the Lady Cougars roster.
Alison Jarvis, Courtney Lewis and Hannah Johnson are out for the first time for the Lady Cougars.
Lewis, just a freshman, fired a 44 in a nine-hole match earlier this year.
At East Coweta, Cherry Tobin and Gabby Freed are expected lead the Lady Indians.
TEAM RESULTS Third ANNUAL COUGAR INVITATIONAL
Sponsored by Keith Ross and Country Financial
1 Walton A 289
2. McIntosh 314
3. Newnan 315
4.. Walton B 320
5. Whitefield 336
6. Carrollton 345
7. East Coweta 365
8. Strong Rock 366
9 Pike County 374
John Yi Walton 69 -3
Matt Flynn Walton 71 -1