E.A. Sports Today

Arm-locked in

White Plains’ Edwards turns to new putter and stroke on eve of state tournament season, wins sectional medal; Oxford’s Page qualifies for 6A substate

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES – Changing equipment is pretty commonplace among serious golfers. Clubs in the bag one week might not be there the next. Changing equipment before a major tournament, well, that’s a little more debatable.

White Plains’ Sawyer Edwards didn’t seem to mind. The Wildcats were about to embark on the three most important tournaments of the season and here was their best player not only changing the most important club in the bag, but also the way he uses it.

He won the county tournament earlier this month with the most conventional of putters and stroke. But when he stepped on the greens at Silver Lakes for Monday’s Class 4A Boys Sectional, he pulled out a long-handled putter and stroked it with the arm-lock putting style made famous by Matt Kuchar on the PGA Tour.

Still, he was comfortable enough with it to shoot 3-over-par 75 and win medalist honors while helping the defending state champion Wildcats advance to the even more important Sub-State Tournament where the arm-lock putter will continue to be in use.

“I was never putting bad, I just decided I’d give it a try,” the White Plains sophomore said. “I was being funny at Pine Hill and it was in the pro shop. I went to the putting green and you can’t miss with it.

“I asked Cory (Etter, Pine Hill’s pro) to let me try this out for a couple days. I played with it over the weekend and had seven birdies Saturday and six on Sunday, so I said why not, I should just stick with this putter.”

When he asked swing coach Jammie Lett’s opinion and the Cider Ridge director of golf told him he sounded confident using it, that sealed it. Of course, he’s still getting used to it, but it sounds likely to be in the bag for a while.

White Plains coach Chris Randall is on board.

“He knows his game better than we do, better than anybody else does,” he said. “The biggest thing is he was bouncing around; he was really confident with it. He hadn’t been making anything the other way. Sometimes a different look helps you. If he believes it helps him, then it’s probably helping him.

“Putting is about 90 percent confidence anyway. Matt (Rogers, assistant coach) always says tell yourself you’re the best putter in the world whether you are or not. You’ve got to make yourself believe that.”

Armed with his new putting stroke, Edwards won the individual battle by three shots over Oneonta’s Russell Boren, but the Redskins won the war. They placed their four counters among the top six finishers and edged White Plains for the team title by three shots.

But all the Wildcats had to do was not be last in the five-team field to advance. The real test comes next week when several teams are expected to challenge them for the North’s two spots in the state tournament at Hampton Cove.

“We didn’t play our best, my grade would be a B, a solid B,” Randall said. “We’re just spending too much money 100 yards and in. We’ve got to clean it up.”

The putter wasn’t the only piece of equipment-related news that made headlines in Edwards’ round. He broke his driver on 11 tee – Heartbreaker No. 2. Making things worse, that’s a green he can usually attack from the tees they play and he made bogey.

He knew something was wrong when he snap-hooked the ball off the tee. The driver broke cleanly at the tip.

“I hit a fade normally and I hit it and it hooked and was like, ‘What the heck?” he said. “I put my driver down and went to pick up the tee and I saw that and said ‘What am I going to do?’

“I loved that shaft. I’ve had it for a year and a half, two years, now. I lucked out. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it.”

He said he felt “powerless” without the driver the rest of the round. He hit 3-iron off the tee on all but two holes coming in and parred in to the clubhouse. He caught himself wishing he had it on Heartbreaker 7 so he could hit driver off the deck. 

On the right Page

CALERA – Oxford sophomore Annabelle Page reaped the benefits of a season-long commitment to improving when she shot 81 at Timberline to tie for second low medalist in Class 6A Section 2 and qualify as an individual for the Sub-State next Tuesday at Mobile Country Club.


Page enjoyed one of her best ball-striking round ever. She hit all 13 fairways on the par-71 layout and 13 greens. A little sharper with the putter – five 3-putts, three on the front – and she’d have been in the 70s and medalist.

Yellow Jackets coach David Weeks called it the best ball-striking day he’s seen since his team made it to state four years ago.

“Today was by far the best ball-striking round I’ve had all season,” Page said. “I haven’t been this consistent since the Club Championship at Cider Ridge last summer. I think anybody who watched me play would agree with that.

“I have hit the ball great all year and just haven’t been able to produce any results. I feel like I’ve been in a scoring slump so it was really relieving and exciting for me to be able to play well in a big tournament like this. I struggle a lot with the mental side of the game, but I have never been more confident standing over the ball with an iron than I was today.”

She was really sharp on the back. She missed only one green on that side and shot 37 with a double bogey. She hit a long tee shot on 11 that left her 140 into the par-5. She made par there then almost holed out on 12 from 65 yards for eagle and converted the birdie.

The double came on 16 after hitting a good shot on the wrong line, then finished with pars on 17 and 18.

“I came off a rough front nine and knew I had to switch up my mentality going into the back if I wanted to advance,” she said. “My goal was to keep hitting fairways and greens. If I did that, I knew that putts would start falling in.

“Timberline is not an easy course and I’m excited to be able to advance to Mobile and represent Oxford.”

Oxford’s boys finished second as a team and advanced to the substate. Nic Boyd was fourth individually (78).

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