Daviess County was the 2nd Region champion a year ago but after losing three starters, it will be up to the younger Panthers to return to the top, or another area team could take the reins.
For of the local teams will tee off Friday in the Daviess County Invitational when the season officially begins.
For coach David Lyons and the Apollo Eagles, they’ll go into 2020 with three seniors leading the way. Ethan Dych, Tanner Klee and Nathan Payne will be the go-to players for Lyons this fall. He said each player has something different they bring to the table.
“The keys to success for our golf team in 2020 is being able to be consistent when we play,” he said. “Each player needs to develop a consistency of playing to the best of their abilities when they are playing in matches and in tournaments. Practice and playing daily will aid each individual to become a more consistent player.”
Lyons said he wants his guys to be more competitive this season when they play in tournaments, as their experience is going to be a big help.
“The team’s aspirations for the season is to improve daily, have fun when playing and practicing, and be ready to show improvement from the beginning of the golf season,” he said. “Golf has provided an outlet for the team to get away from the daily grind of COVID-19. With hard work, good opportunities could be around the corner for this Apollo team. I am excited for the Apollo golf program because of the number of young players that have come out for this season and are showing promise for a bright future.”
Daviess County lost three players from last season’s 2nd Region championship team, including tournament medalist Daniel Love. DC coach Lars King said the key for this season is optimism.
“We lost our core group of seniors, three guys that traveled with me for two or three years,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect from some new guys and some returning guys that haven’t got a ton of experience as far as traveling … I really think we’ll be competitive, tournament-in and tournament-out. I really think when it comes time for postseason that if everyone can round up their game where they should be then we should be in good shape.”
Nick Johnson and Braden Whistle are the two returning travel players for the Panthers from a year ago, and King will look on them to lead.
“Nick’s been with me for four years now and got to travel most of those,” he said. “Braden, this will be his third season and he’s got to travel a lot, too. Those guys, I just feel like they’ve really improved since last season even and I look for them to come out and really be kind of the core of the team.”
King said he also has several younger players that couple slide into the starting five, depending on how they playing going into a tournament.
“We’ll see on Friday where everybody steps up when tournament time hits,” he said.
Much like Daviess County, the Owensboro Red Devils lost several starters off of last year’s squad. OHS coach Pat Hume said they’ll be fielding many middle school players in addition to James Rhineburger and Noah Newton.
“We lost three seniors to graduation last year so we will be rebuilding our team this year,” he said.
Hume said he’s hoping the younger players can build on the experience they’ll get and be consistent by the end of the season.
Aside from Rhineburger, Newton and Will Hume, the coach said he’d also have a combined five 7th- and 8th-graders vying for time as well.
“With so many young players, we will be focusing on the fundamentals and the mental side of golf,” he said. “Emphasis will be placed on learning how to get around the course and minimize the bad holes.”
Bretnea Turner and the Owensboro Catholic Aces finished fifth in the 2nd Region tournament a year ago and not only return their entire varsity squad, but they also bring back Jakob Wellman, who finished third in the region championship.
“I am excited for this season, as only a month ago I didn’t know if we would even have one,” she said. “While I know this can change at any point, I’m grateful for some normalcy and I know my team is as well. Our team also has upperclassmen leadership, which we have had to improvise the last couple years. Reece (Higdon), Jakob and Griffin (Payne) will help to balance our team with experience.”
In addition to their starters, Turner said she’s looking forward to a few of the younger players stepping up and getting more experience.
“Several players have been practicing all spring and summer and a few have had successful tournaments,” she said.
Griffin Payne, Higdon, Sam Mitchell, JT Payne and Noah Johnson are all back on the course for the Aces this season.
Turner said her younger players will get several weekly matches as they work on course management and improving scores while she said the varsity team is looking for consistency.
“With all players returning, this will give our team confidence moving into this season, as they have played big tournaments, have traveled to play difficult courses, and have experience in high pressure situations,” she said.
Trinity will field a team, but OT has not received a response by the time of publication. Information will be added when it becomes available.