E.A. Sports Today

Sawyer, Wilder advance

Centre 13-year-old wins his division in Drive, Putt & Chip; Pell City’s Wilder 2nd in his, both advance to Pinehurst; Anniston’s Rogers fourth in 10-11 girls

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Mark Sawyer moved one step closer to a trip to Augusta National Wednesday when he advanced to the regionals of the Drive, Chip & Putt competition.

Sawyer, a rising seventh-grader at Cedar Bluff who plays out of Cherokee County CC, won the boys 12-13 division in second stage play at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., and now will compete at Pinehurst Sept. 4.

The regional winners advance to the national finals at Augusta National the Sunday prior to The Masters.

“It’s very exciting after the disappointment I had last year,” Sawyer said as he rode home from the competition. “I felt confident this year and felt I did pretty well.

“When I found out I was leading and there was only one person behind me and I was going, I was ecstatic.”

Sawyer scored 129 points. He won the driving element with three increasingly longer attempts that topped out at 249 yards. He scored 26 points and 50 points in chipping and putting, respectively, and won the division by 12 points.

“Last year (in the second stage) I just did not do well driving, chipping or putting and finished somewhere around eighth or ninth out of about 15 kids,” the 13-year-old said. “The second round I was very nervous and didn’t handle it well.

“I definitely worked a lot harder this year. I didn’t want to let myself down again. I tried to work on my confidence and mental game and how I handled the nerves and my game improved over time.”

Pell City’s Tanner Wilder also advanced to Pinehurst after finishing second in the boys 14-15 division at Chateau Elan.

Anniston’s Isabel Rogers also was there. She finished fourth in the girls 10-11 division with 81 points. She won the putting competition, beating among others division winner Avery Zweig of Texas, one of the top 10-year-old girls juniors in the world.

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