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Monday June 17th, 2019 1:29AM

STATE GOLF: Gainesville boys finish 3rd in 6A; girls are 5th

By Bo Wilson | Video by Seth Chapman

CANTON – The Gainesville boys golf team has taken every match as a learning experience. 

The Class 6A state tournament was no different for a team made up of two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. 

After Day 2, the future is very bright for this program. 

The Red Elephants improved nine strokes from Day 1 to finish third in the Class 6A tournament Tuesday at Woodmont Golf Course — five golfers also dropped strokes in the final round. 

"We weren't happy after yesterday," Zayne Hilderbrand said. "We had to just talk to each other and push ourselves to play better today." 

Hilderbrand turned in a 75 on Tuesday, three strokes better than his Day 1 score of 78.

(For a full rundown of the field, click here.)

Gainesville ended the first round in seventh place overall and sophomore Sam Patterson wasn't happy at all after that round.

After turning in a team-high 84 on Day 1, Patterson wheeled his driver back into the fairway and dropped 11 strokes off his first round score to fire a final-round 73. He tied teammate, freshman Alex Hughes, for the team's low score of the day. 

"For me, my driver kind of killed me yesterday and today I figured it out," Patterson. "I hit it down the middle, which led me to hit short irons to the greens and have putts for birdies."

As for Hughes, he improved three strokes from Day 1 to turn in a 73 and finish 12th overall. 

"I play best when I don't have to prove myself. I think that's why I played so well," Hughes said. "I just kind of kept it even keel all day."

Junior Price Embry and freshman Ryan Davidson also were better on Day 2, both scoring 76. Embry was two strokes better and Davidson polished his play by five strokes from Day 1.

It was going to be tough for anybody to catch two-time defending state champ Johns Creek, who bested the field on Day 1 to finish 12-under par, 22 strokes ahead of second-place Creekview. The Gladiators finished the tournament 20-under par to walk away with the Class 6A title for the third-straight year.

Andy Mao and Bruce Murphy swept the top-two spots for Johns Creek, who had four golfers in the top-seven at the end of the day. 

Gainesville coach Clay McDonald overall was pleased with the finish of his young group.

"We're talented and inexperienced, but we can't really say that after this season," he said. "Now we've done what we wanted to do, which was get some experience under our belt. We did that over the course of the season leading into today. To get a young team some experience at a state tournament and do well, that's the icing on the cake."

 

Gainesville girls finish fifth

The Gainesville girls finished fifth overall in the Class 6A tournament at Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth. 

The Lady Red Elephants also improved from Day 1, shooting five strokes better to finish the tournament with a 511 two-day total. 

Vivian Robinson was the biggest mover for Gainesville. She fired an 84 on Tuesday, 10 strokes better than Day 1. 

Karina Collins and Catherine Cook both shot better on Day 2, erasing three strokes off their Day 1 totals. 

But, Morgan Nichol's consistency lifted her to a 17th overall finish and the low scorer for the Lady Red Elephants. 

(For a full rundown of the field, click here.)

Seth Chapman contributed to this story.

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