Fri, 2016-06-17 05:00 News Staff
Fox wins again, Morrison finishes 6th out of 52 as five Cove golfers compete in Starburst Junior Golf Classic
By TJ MAXWELL
KILLEEN – Copperas Cove’s Elle Fox has proven that she can hang with the big dogs of Texas on the golf course and has what it takes to compete nationally in skills competitions. This week she showed she could also grind through a three-day tournament at three different courses in scorching temperatures to top a talented field of golfers from Texas and Oklahoma in the 13-year-old age group of the annual Starburst Junior Golf Classic held over three days at nine courses in Central Texas.
“It feels amazing,” said Fox. “I was ready and prepared for this tournament and I won so I’m happy. I feel confident. I made it to the National Drive, Chip and Putt so I feel like I can do better in tournaments.”
Fox entered the final day of the tournament at the Stonetree Golf Course in Killeen with a four-stroke lead over Lilly Whitley of Oklahoma after entering day two at the Wildflower Country Club in Belton down to Whitley by two strokes after their opening round at the Lake Waco Golf Club in Waco.
“I had trouble on my approach shots on the first day but started improving on that,” said Fox.
Fox found her groove on day two on the familiar grounds of Wildflower and outplayed Whitley by six strokes to take a 160-164 lead heading into the final day of competition.
“I was nervous,” said Fox about her start to day three. “I wanted to do well but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself and melt down but I was really nervous.”
Cody Fox, Elle’s father/coach/caddie, didn’t share her nerves coming in.
“We knew that this was her course,” he said. “We knew she was going to come in with a good score as long as she stayed focused and played her game.”
It didn’t take her long to shake those nerves and get back in rhythm as she and Whitley exchanged clutch shot after clutch shot.
“It was a good competition,” said Fox. “(Whitley) was a great competitor and I was glad she was putting pressure on me so I can do better.”
Fox had a slip up on hole 14, her second-to last hole, that gave Whitley an opportunity to close the gap and the 13-year-old from Edmond, OK did just that.
Fox, however, didn’t let the bad shot affect her game and stayed focused for a strong finish.
“I think she did great,” said Cody Fox. “She hung in there. I think on the second-to-last hole she could have melted and collapsed but she fought hard and that’s what it takes. When you play girls as good as this, you’ve got to finish the whole 18 holes. If you give up after 16, why even play. I think she did very well.
She played it safe on the final hole of the tournament holding a three-stroke lead, electing to go around the water hazard on hole 15 before hitting a solid up shot and clutch putt from around 20 feet on a rolling incline for a five on the hole to lock up the tournament by two-strokes after Whitley went for the green on her second shot to finish with a four.
Fox’s three-day total of 236 (77-83-76) bested Whitley by two strokes 238 (75-89-74) and the rest of the field by 31 or more strokes.
“Her competition was awesome,” said Cody Fox. “Lilly (Whitley) and her caddie, Mickey, showed great sportsmanship.”
Fox’s best friend and Copperas Cove Junior High teammate Madelyn Miller also competed in the tournament in the girls’ 14-year-old group and posted her best-ever 18-hole round of 97 on the final day at Stonetree. She posted a three-round total of 303 (101-105-97) for an 11thplace finish in her first 18-hole tournament or tournament of this caliber.
Fox is excited to see her teammate, who had never played 18 holes in a tournament until day one of the Starburst Classic, got in some rounds with high-caliber competition so she can improve her game.
“It’s very important (for kids from Cove to compete in summer tournaments),” said Fox. “I want her to do well and I know she can do it. She just needs to try harder, but I know she can do it. I want to have a good golf team in high school so we can go to state and win.”
Fox continues her rigorous summer schedule with the Texas/Oklahoma tournament June 20-22 in Wichita Falls before competing in the Texas/Mexico Cup in Austin on June 24-26 and her first of three out-of-state tournaments. She will compete in the US Golf Association Women’s Amateur Qualifier in Scottsdale, AZ on June 30 before heading out to California for the IMG Worlds at Torrey Pines July 12-14 and the American Junior Golf Association Temecula Qualifier on July 18.
Also representing Copperas Cove at the Starburst tournament was recent graduates Tyler Morrison and Bryce Anderson, along with incoming senior Caden McAnally.
Morrison, who signed to play golf for McLennan Community College, finished sixth out of 52 players in the Girl’s championship division.
Morrison shot an 83 on day one at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco to finish in a three-way tie for 12th place.
She moved up to 10th place after a round of 76 at the Squaw Valley Golf Course in Glen Rose but Tyler made her move up the leader board with the fourth-best day-three total of 81 at the Wildflower Country Club. Only tournament champion Brooke Duzan of Sulphur, LA, runner up Karlei Hemler of Groves and Shaley Goad of Wheeler posted better scores on championship day with scores of 77, 79 and 80, respectively.
Cove senior Caden McAnally was tied for fourth in the Boys’ President’s Flight at the conclusion of day two after posting an 86 at Wildflower on Monday and an 82 at Cottonwood Creek on Tuesday for a combined total of 168, 18 strokes behind leader Shepherd Branch of Flower Mound and just six strokes behind Dustin Anderson of Granbury in second place.
The field came back to McAnally on the final day as 14 players posted scores of 80 or below and 40 players bested McAnally’s final day score of 88. He finished in a five-way tie for 23rd out of 57 players and finished tied for 87th out of the 129 players in the Boys’ Championship Division.
Cove graduate Bryce Anderson, who will play college golf for the Kilgore Rangers, finished mid-pack at 32nd out of 67 players in the Boys’ Championship Flight and was 33rd out of the 129 total players in the Boys Championship Division.
Anderson shot an 83 on day one at Wildflower before posting back to back rounds of 79 to finish with a three-day total of 241, just 19 strokes behind the champion, Nathan Zahn of Houston (222 – 75, 75, 72).