Cove golfers have strong showing on summer tour
Fri, 2016-06-24 05:00 News Staff
By TJ MAXWELL
Copperas Cove summer golf continues it’s torrid pace with players across Texas posting strong finishes.
Cove senior Caden McAnally picked up his first Junior Golf Tour win with an 8-over 80 during the Beltway Junior Golf Tour event at the 7,072-yard par-72 Blackhawk Golf Club in Pflugerville. After four-straight holes of bogey or worse to begin the tourney, he found his groove with just one over-par in the next 12 holes with a pair of consecutive birdies mixed in for good measure.
“It felt good,” McAnally said of his first win on the Junior Tour. “I’ve really been going through a swing change lately with my coach Janet Gaddy over there at the Texas Junior Golf Academy.”
McAnally held off Jared Carnes of Round Rock, who had a birdie and four pars in his final six holes for an 82 and Wyatt Weir of Belton who finished third with an 87.
“I was really going through a little rough phase there but then I got lucky and hit some good shots,” he said. “Everything fell in place for the 18 holes.”
McAnally followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the Beltway tournament at his home course – the Hills of Cove Golf Course in Copperas Cove.
McAnally, who led the Copperas Cove High School team at the UIL district tournament last year finishing one stroke away from a regional berth, has really been working to improve with Gaddy and the summer tour schedule.
“(Janet and I) have been working on hitting a little baby draw now instead on hitting a little baby draw now instead of playing a cut,” he said. “I’ve really just been working on my accuracy on my shorter shots. I have the distance off the tee but I just haven’t been the most accurate player from the fairway. I’ve really been keeping up with that this summer.
“I’ve also been keeping in touch with the players from the high school golf team. We’re always meeting up out there and playing a few holes of golf and they’re often playing in the same tournaments. I’m really looking forward to the season. Hopefully, we have a good winning season.”
Cove junior Dustin Dean had the best showing for Cove at home as he bested his high school teammate McAnally (75) and former teammate Bryce Anderson (72) by posting a personal 1-under-par 70 to finish in second place for the tournament just three strokes behind Belton’s Dalton Hankhamer (67).
Dean is coming off of a win on June 10 at the Beltway tournament held at Sammons Golf Links in Temple. He finished with a five-over 75 to edge out Belton’s Noah Howard (77) and Austin Hughling (80).
McAnally feels that he and Dean make a good one-two punch and is hoping some other players step up to help make this season a historical one.
“I’m really hoping my team pulls through this year,” he said. “We have a couple playing well. Dustin Dean is playing really good this summer. He just finished second at the Hills of Cove yesterday. He broke par with a one-under. Right now the team is looking good. We just need to find three solid players so we can post good numbers this year.”
McAnally would love to be a part of another first for Cove.
“It would be amazing,” he said. “We’ve gone from hardly contending at our district tournament to almost getting to regionals this past year. Last year, I was only one stroke away from regionals as an individual but, this year, I think we have a real shot as a team and I think that would be the first team making it out of district in a long, long time.”
Another Cove player notching their first title was Cove Junior High’s Madelyn Miller. She shot a 99 to finish four strokes ahead of Salado’s Taylor Rich (103) and Temple’s Jordan Jones (105) at the Hills of Cove tournament.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Miller. “It has been a really interesting journey. Cody Fox has been super encouraging. I didn’t go out there expecting to win. I just wanted to better myself so next year I could win but then I got out there and actually won and that was pretty amazing.
Miller just picked up the sport but has already shown she has a knack. She may come by it naturally with Southwestern golfer Mikayla Miller as an older sister, on top of Tyler Morrison and Junior High teammate Elle Fox to look up to.
“It definitely pushes me,” she said. “It shows me it’s possible to go places, especially with Elle, she’s so young and works so hard to get where she is. She has really made an impact on the golf community of Copperas Cove and all around.
“Watching my sister, I would see how she put in the effort and go out there for four hours and go to different lessons and coaching things. It has really pushed me and showed me I can better myself, not only in golf, but anything.”
Miller found her zest for the game after plaing in her first 18-hole tournament recently at the Starburst Junior Golf Classic.
“I was really scared to go out there,” she said. When I started playing it was amazing. It wasn’t just that day it was the whole tournament. It showed me just how much fun you could have. I learned to have fun first and get better, then turn it into competition.”
Someone who’s no stranger to the podium, former Lady Dawg and MCC Highlassies signee Tyler Morrison, picked up a win on the Southern Texas PGA Tour at The Hills Country Club in Austin with a 10-over-par 82 to best the field by 10-plus strokes. She broke a string of six-consecutive holes with a bogey or worse before going on a tear of two birdies and three pars over the next six to put a stranglehold on the lead and best hometown player Olivia Stokes of Austin (92) and Kayla McFall of Killeen (93).
Morrison is currently ranked 9th out of 93 in the STPGA Junior Tour summer series with 1,475 points in five events. McFall leads the standings with 2,312.50 points in eight events.
Another player use to finishing in the top three is Cove Junior High’s Elle Fox. The late-charging Fox roared from 10 strokes down after day one of the three-day Texas/Oklahoma tournament to finish just two strokes off the lead.
Alexis Escobedo of Amarillo took a commanding lead with a day one 69 at the Champions Course at Weeks Park in Wichita Falls with Fox finishing with a 79.
Fox made a big push for the lead on day two with her lowest-ever 18-hole round of 73 at the Wichita Falls Country Club to get within four of Escobedo, who posted a 79.
Fox again posted the best score of the day on the final day at the River Creek Park Golf Course in Burkburnett. She shot a 74 for a three-day total of 226. Escobedo finished with a 76 on day three for a total of 224.
Cove had has a huge upswing in participation in the golf program in recent years with the summer golf program and successes of former players Drew Dewald, Mikayla Miller and Tyler Morrison paving the way with the up-and-comers like McAnally, Dean and Fox making a splash.
McAnally hopes that doesn’t stop anytime soon and wants potential future golfers to know it’s more than just a game.
“Golf is a gentleman’s sport and it will stay with you for the rest of your life,” he said. “There are lots of learning opportunities. It not only teaches how to play a great sport, but teaches you life lessons not cheating, being honest and having sportsmanship. It’s really unlike any other sport.”