Higginbotham fires 74 at state golf tourney
By Michael Wetzel
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Athens High's Joe Higginbotham is providing senior leadership, and now golf coach Don Bowling wants the Golden Eagles' rank-and-file troops to get in step with his squad's lone senior.
At 338, Athens sits in seventh place after Monday's first round of the Class 5A boys state golf tournament at the par-72 Grand National Lake Course in Opelika. Briarwood Christian leads with a 292 heading into Tuesday's final round.
Higginbotham carried some of the hottest clubs of the tournament in his bag on opening day. His 74 puts him alone in seventh place individually and three shots out of second.
"Joe started a little slow," Bowling said. "But midway through the front nine, he made a couple of birdies and brought in a nice 74.
Bowling added: "I want my team to have a good showing, but nobody else could put up a score. We didn't get what I wanted from the team. I'm very disappointed in the team effort. It is a great experience for us being here. We've got some good young players (three sophomores and one junior) on their way. We're just not there as a team yet."
Bowling said a top-five finish for Higginbotham would be a great way for him to end his prep career.
"If he shoots another 74 or better tomorrow, that will be great for him," Bowling said. "As far as the team is concerned, today is behind us and we have to try to hit it better tomorrow."
Bowling said he is expecting his team to shave 20 strokes off its Monday score Tuesday. In a tie for 34th, Athens' Will Morrow contributed an opening-day 86 and teammate Craig Whitt is a shot back.
Decatur's Bill Nabors is in 22nd individually with an 80.
In Class 1A-2A boys action, Falkville's Thomas Holt posted an 85, good for 20th individually. The team is in eighth place at 269.
In Class 1A-5A girls competition, Hartselle senior Taylor Kirby shot 94 and is in 11th place individually. Decatur High sophomore Whitney Johnston is a stroke back in 12th.
Ardmore eighth-grader Ashlee Beck carded a 97 for 14th place, and Athens senior Courtney Medlen had an opening-day 98, good for 15th.
"We're very pleased with Courtney's score," said Janet Latham, Athens girls golf coach. "She's only been playing competitive golf for about eight weeks. We're real pleased with her progress."
Latham said Medlen's goal is to post a 36-hole total of 200 or less. Last spring, Medlen played tennis for the Lady Golden Eagles.
Etowah's Mallory Batson, a Mississippi State signee, leads the Class 1A-5A girls competition with 76. She finished second in the 2006 Alabama Women's Alabama Golf Association's Junior Championship at Burningtree Country Club last summer.
Briarwood Christian's Rosson Anderson had the day's lowest round with a 68.
State prep golf tournament
Here are the scores involving area schools after the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Associationís golf championship at the par-72 Grand National Lake Course in Opelika on Monday.
Class 5A team
7. Athens 338
7. Joe Higginbotham, Athens 74
22. Bill Nabors, Decatur 80
34. Will Morrow, Athens 86
37. Craig Whitt, Athens 87
41. Andrew Rockwell, Athens 91
44. Brian Chandler, Athens 94
Class 1A-2A team
8. Falkville 269
20. Thomas Holt, Falkville 85
34. Nathan Knowles, Falkville 92
34. Josh Henderson, Falkville 92
40. Dustin Gatlin, Falkville 101
Class 1A-5A team
4. Ardmore 349
11. Taylor Kirby, Hartselle 94
12. Whitney Johnston, Decatur 95
14. Ashlee Beck, Ardmore 97
15. Courtney Medlen, Athens 98
17. Patricia Long, Hartselle 107
20. Haley Helums, Ardmore 123
22. Megan Pressnell, Ardmore 129
23. Whitney McAllister, Ardmore 134
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