Southern Cross set to tee off this weekend
Palmetto Golf Club once again welcomes an elite field this weekend for the 45th annual Southern Cross golf tournament.
This year’s field includes 22 teams plus five individuals and promises to be just as competitive as ever.
History is at stake this year – as is typically the case at the Southern Cross – as Boiling Springs attempts to become just the second team ever to win the tournament three years in a row. The only school to achieve such a feat is Georgia’s Hardaway High School from 1977-79 under the direction of the legendary Larry Gaither.
Plenty of championship-level golf teams will do their best to make sure the Bulldogs don’t reach that rarified air.
Three defending South Carolina High School League state champions – Gaffney at the Class AAAAA level, Bishop England at AAA and Christ Church at AA – highlight a field that also includes defending Class AAAA individual champion Brandon Masters from Wren High.
Seven teams in the field – A.C. Flora, Boiling Springs, Gaffney, Hilton Head Christian, Lexington, North Augusta and South Aiken – have won the event before, led by the T-Breds’ record six titles.
South Aiken comes into this weekend with momentum, having won Tuesday’s Region 5-AAAA championship by 22 shots. Kennedy Middle eighth-grader Cameron Biddle, a Palmetto regular, was the region medalist with a 72 at Woodside’s Cupp Course, and he and the T-Breds have plenty of reason to be confident this week.
“I feel really good. I practiced it a lot last week,” Biddle said. “Greens are really good – I like how the greens are rolling right now. And I’m playing really good right now. I feel like I can shoot really good there.”
South Aiken’s Drew Greene and Colson McNulty joined Biddle on the All-Region team, as did Aiken’s Charlton Hill and Rafferty Hall. North Augusta’s Fritz Rowell missed out on making All-Region by one stroke.
The Hornets and Yellow Jackets, who finished second and third in Region 5-AAAA, respectively, are in the field, as is Region 2-AA champion Fox Creek. Predators senior Colin Trahan was region medalist for the third year in a row, and he was joined on the All-Region team by freshman Evan Prickett, senior Bryce Bessey and freshman Darian Dorn.
Seven of the top 10 players in the South Carolina Junior Golf Association’s rankings will be in action: No. 2 Gene Zeigler of Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate; No. 3 Drayton Stewart of James Island Charter; No. 4 Holden Grigg of Myrtle Beach; No. 6 Nathan Franks of Dorman; No. 7 Seth Taylor of Gaffney; and No. 8 Zach Reuland and No. 9 Nicholas Mayfield, teammates at Rock Hill High.
Then there’s Riverside’s Nick Dunlap. Just a freshman, Dunlap held the 36-hole lead at last weekend’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley before finishing in a tie for fourth.
All in all, this year’s Southern Cross looks to be as strong as ever.
Golfers will play two 18-hole rounds this weekend, one Friday and one Saturday. Tee times start at 7:30 a.m. each day. A new addition to the festivities is the Bill Hardy Short Game Challenge, which will be contested by two-player teams during Friday’s post-round players’ dinner.