E.A. Sports Today

Off to a big start

White Plains boys get low round, hole-in-one, big round from fifth spot to open 20-shot lead in 4A state tournament

White Plains’ Wesley Jenkins pulls the ball out of the hole after his hole-in-one on the second hole Monday in the Class 4A boys state golf championship. (Photo by Justin Mallicoat)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MOBILE – A wet and sloppy day got off to a good start for the White Plains’ golf team and wound up being even better when it was over.

Kenny Okins shot 2-under-par, Wesley Jenkins scored a hole-in-one and the Wildcats posted 300 as a team – one shot better than they would’ve had under normal circumstances – as they opened a 20-shot lead on Haleyville in Class 4A in the opening round of the AHSAA Golf Championships at the RTJ Trail Magnolia Grove facility.

Okins’ shares the individual lead with Brooks’ Zach Ashley at 69, one shot better than Oneonta’s Luke Linley. The Wildcats also counted a 74 from Wesley Jenkins (T4), a 75 from No. 5 Sawyer Edwards (T6), the front nine of Peyton Bradley and the back nine of Gage Miller.

White Plains has have never won a state championship in a boys sports.

“We’ve come down here a couple times and this feels like the first time where we really executed the first day especially,” Okins said. “We don’t have to have the mentality we need to make up shots. We have the mentality we want to do something special.”

Because of the weather that delayed the start twice, the field played a stipulated round Monday, taking the best four individual scores from the front nine and the best four from the back nine. The Wildcats shot 301 in the traditional scoring method, but the adjusted scoring actually helped them pick up a shot. Haleyville stayed the same.

“It was very tough out there, it was raining all day long,” Sawyer said. “It definitely didn’t make it easy.”

Sawyer’s showing was particularly important for the Wildcats. The freshman wasn’t even in their lineup until his final-round 70 and second-place finish in the Calhoun County Tournament and now you can’t keep him out of it.

“I was hitting it super bad at the beginning of the season and I put in a lot of practice and been hitting it a lot better,” he said.

“He’s been solid all year long,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “I was not at all surprised. The moment was not too big for him. He’s just tough and showed a lot of toughness today. It was so much fun to watch and I’m not the least bit surprised.”

The shot of the day belonged to Jenkins. He made a hole-in-one on his second hole of the day, holing a 7-iron from 167 yards. It was his first ace in competition, but his second in four days. He aced the 14th hole during a practice round on the Short Course Friday night.

“I kind of thinned it but it was on the line and I knew it had the number,” Jenkins said. “It landed it looked a little past it and slightly to the left. I turned around and said that’s gonna be close.

“There were a bunch of people behind the green (including Randall and Pine Hill’s John and Rodney Grubbs) and they were raising their hands up like it was going to go in. I didn’t think it was. It dropped and I freaked.”

A bogey on the next hole had him forgetting all about the ace when he got to 4. He was back over par after a double on 6.

“I didn’t score that great (in the round), but, hey, I had a hole-in-one,” he said.

Okins was his steady self in the race for medalist. He was 3-under through 11, right during the middle of the rain, then gave a shot back on 13. Even in the tough conditions he hit 15 greens, so his irons were dialed in.

“It was a pretty boring round,” he said. “The most interesting thing was hearing the roar from Wesley. I couldn’t see see it, but I could hear the reaction and then my dad came storming up to me.”

Weaver’s Nick Ledbetter, competing as an individual in 3A boys, bounced back after a tough opening nine and shot 88.

At RTJ-Magnolia Grove
Team scores
White Plains 300
Haleyville 320
Deshler 326
Fayette County 388

Top 10 individuals
Zach Ashley, Brooks 34-35—69
Kenny Okins, White Plains 33-36—69
Luke Linley, Deshler 35-35—70
Hudson Lawson, Haleyville 35-39—74
Wesley Jenkins, White Plains 36-38—74
Russell Boren, Oneonta 37-38—75
Sawyer Edwards, White Plains 37-38—75
Andrew Miles, Bibb County 37-42—79
Jake Temple, Haleyville 39-40—79
Ben Myhan, Deshler 36-43—79

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