Patriots senior Jerrell Hubbard took up golf five years ago when he was in the eighth grade, and five years later he became Westover’s first region champ in nearly 20 years.
AUGUSTA — When you think Westover athletics, basketball, baseball and wrestling come to mind.
Golf? Well ... not so much.
But this year, senior Jerrell Hubbard changed all that.
Hubbard became Westover’s first Region 1-AAA champion in nearly 20 years when he fired an 80 in gusty conditions a week ago to win low medalist honors to help the Patriots finish region runner-up to Worth County, and now he’ll lead the Patriots’ golf team into the GHSA Class AAA State Tournament today in Augusta looking for more.
“Hard work,” Westover head coach Mitch Carthon said when asked how Hubbard went from not knowing much about the game just five years ago to the toast of the region, and hoping his senior season ends with a scholarship offer.
“That kid works his tail off. He’s getting some looks, mostly from D-II schools, but we’re hoping maybe FAMU may offer him. A good performance (today) would go a long way. He can shoot in the 70s, or even lower — he did it plenty this year. A low medallist win at state would sure be nice for him and this program. And if anyone can do it, it’s Jerrell.”
Hubbard was in Augusta on Sunday playing a practice round at Augusta Country Club, site of today’s AAA tournament. He’s confident he can shoot under 80, his region-title score.
“ “I shot a 77 (Sunday), but I know I can go lower. As long as I keep it in the middle of the fairway and keep my mental game straight, I think I have a good shot to do something at state,” said Hubbard, who first started playing in the 8th grade because he wanted to compete with --- and beat --- his dad Jerome, who is an accomplished amateur golfer. “The course sets up real well for my game. I think I can get par or lower, and that’s what it will take to win.”
Joining Hubbard and Westover at state today are several other teams and individuals from Southwest Georgia who qualified during region last week, including Worth County’s boys, who are coached by Scotty Ward. The Rams won the 1-AAA crown last week by nipping Westover with a score of 347 as the Patriots finished with a score of 360. Crisp County’s girls, meanwhile, are making the trip to state today after the Lady Cougars finished runner-up to Cairo at the region tournament, while Worth County’s Kaitlyn Parton qualified individually.
Two-time defending Region 1-A champion Seminole County, which is led by junior Tyler Shamblin — the 1-A low medallist who shot a 70 in the region tournament — and senior Hudson Hannah, who shot a 73 and finished second, will represent the small school classification today. The Indians are coached by Seminole County principal Brinson Register with the assistance of former head coach and Donalsonville golf legend E.C. Bridges, who led the school to its first — and only — state title in 1980.
“We hope to finish in the Top 5, and right now we’re coming in ranked No. 4,” said Bridges, whose team will tee off today at Forest Hills Country Club in Augusta, site of the Class A meet. “Tyler’s shot right around 70 all year, and if we can do that again and we get low scores from Hudson and our guys, I’d say we have a pretty good chance.”
Also from Region 1-A, Miller County will be competing after finishing runner-up to Seminole in the region tourney, while Baconton Charter’s B.J. Classon qualified as an individual.
On the girls side in 1-A, Baconton won the region tournament — led by low medalist Whitney Harrell — and will be joined today by runner-up Miller County. Marie Sherrer from Seminole County qualified individually.
Early County’s boys — the Region 1-AA champ — enter today’s Class AA tournament, which will be held at Waynesboro Country Club in Augusta, with high hopes. Led by third-year coach Michael Allred, who has won two 1-AA crowns in his three years on the job, the Bobcats could very well make a run at a Top 5 finish if they can get solid rounds out of his two star seniors: No. 1 golfer Rhodes Collier and No. 2 Cole Howard. Collier was the 1-AA low medalist after firing a 77 in gusty conditions, although Allred said Collier averages rounds below 70, while Howard typically shoots under between 70 and 80.
“We’re aiming for a Top 8 finish or better,” Allred said Sunday. “And if Rhodes plays on top of his game, I think he has a shot at low medalist (at state).”
The Early County girls didn’t make it as a team, but Clara Beth Lightsey qualified individually.