Led by Albany stars, Team Georgia crushes S.C. in annual Junior Challenge Match

The organizers of the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match present Team Georgia with its trophy for winning the 38th annual event.

The organizers of the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match present Team Georgia with its trophy for winning the 38th annual event.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — By one of the widest margins in the tournament’s history, Team Georgia spanked Team South Carolina this past weekend at the 38th annual Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match, 11 1/2 - 4 1/2.

This one was never in doubt.

“We wanted to win every one,” said Team Georgia golfer Tyler Hanson, a rising sophomore at Sherwood. “But you can’t complain when you win like we did.”

It was the second straight victory for the Peach State’s top rising golfers, who qualified for the team by finishing in the Top 5 of the recent Georgia Junior Amateur Championship.

Georgia was also led by another Albany golfer, Tyler Joiner, who was actually the first alternate on the team but got a chance to compete when a player dropped out. Joiner and Hanson did their jobs, winning both matches.

Joiner defeated Winn Taylor of Greenville, S.C., 3 and 1, while Hanson took the point from Alex Handy of Aiken, S.C., after rallying on the final three holes.

Hanson said Handy gave him extra incentive to serve his opponent a loss.

“He was trying to make me a little mad at times, I think, with how he acted. Just smart-alleck stuff,” said Hanson, who brushed it off and came back from a one-stroke deficit to win the final three holes. Hanson’s victory secured one of Georgia’s final two points that cemented the crushing.

He continued: “(The situation) was no big deal, nothing I couldn’t handle. It just made me want to win more, plus the pressure was kind of off because we were already up 9 1/2-to-4 1/2 by the time our match was finishing up.”

Joiner, who is home-schooled, found his opponent slightly more agreeable and said his first trip to the Challenge Match was a great experience.

“A little bit of both,” Joiner said when asked whether he’ll remember the weekend more for the time he spent on a team with a few of his close golfing buddies or beating rival South Carolina. “It was great hanging out with everyone, and winning was definitely nice, too.”

Joiner, like Hanson, had to rally to earn his victory, although Joiner seized control much earlier, winning six straight holes at one point to all but put the match out of reach with three holes to play.

Georgia won its first three matches. Jake Fendt of Suwanee beat Zach McLain of Gilbert, 4 and 3; Joiner topped Taylor and Nickolaus Budd of Woodstock topped Michael McKee of Ware Shoals, 3 and 2. South Carolina would then earn two points from the next pair of matches: RJ Keur of North Charleston defeated Carter Mobley of Waynesboro, 6 and 5; and Justin Hood of St. Matthews beat Will Duma of Atlanta, 4 and 2.

Georgia seized control and never looked back.

Four players from Team Georgia each went 2-0 during the competition— Fendt, Joiner, Hanson and Marcus Byrd, the reigning Georgia Junior Am champ.

Georgia now leads the all-time series against South Carolina, 23-13-2.