Walton rallies for comeback county victory
by Carlton D. White
March 27, 2013 12:30 AM | 2545 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Defending individual champion John Yi came up short in his chance to three-peat at the Cobb County Championship on Tuesday, but his 32 helped Walton claim its second straight team title.
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Defending individual champion John Yi came up short in his chance to three-peat at the Cobb County Championship on Tuesday, but his 32 helped Walton claim its second straight team title.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
MARIETTA — Walton rallied from a 10-stroke deficit after Day 1 to produce a three stroke lead and claim a second straight Cobb County Championship on Tuesday at City Club Marietta.

The Raiders shot 164 over their first nine holes Monday and trailed Walker (154) and Lassiter (156) entering the final round.

Spurred by John Yi’s 3-under 32, Walton overtook Lassiter and Walker and won the team title with a 307. The Trojans, who captured the inaugural championship in 2010, carded 310 to earn runner-up honors for the second straight year. The Wolverines finished third with a score of 314.

Walton became the first repeat champion in the event’s four-year history.

Three of Walton’s golfers shot in the 70s over the par-71, 5,721-yard course, despite blustery, cold conditions that often put the wind chill in the low 30s and upper 20s. But, it was Yi, the two-time defending champion, who did the most damage. After shooting 41 on the front nine Monday, he came back to birdie three holes on the back nine, while Michael Sheahan shot 76 (41-35) and Matt Flynn 78 (40-38). Alex Battle’s 80 (42-38) also contributed to the comeback.

“We were a little frantic about how the weather was going to be,” Walton coach Mike Davidson said. “It was bad. We didn’t play as well as we could have, but we talked about how strong we needed to come back. Obviously, John Yi took that seriously and shot a 32 on the back nine to really help us.”

Davidson’s pep talk Tuesday enforced the notion that anything can happen.

“I told them it’s never over until it’s over,” he said. “Everybody talks about the fat lady singing, and we

didn’t have one here. But it’s never over until it’s over. I just want the kids to play well, and when they turn the scorecards in, you know it’s over. All you have in control is what you can do. Just save your strokes and do your best. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.”

Mount Paran Christian (323) was fourth, followed by Hillgrove (327), Kennesaw Mountain (328), Whitefield Academy (330), Walton’s “B” team (333) Kell (336) and Allatoona (341) to complete the top 10. Pope (351), North Cobb (356), Sprayberry (374), Campbell (380) and Wheeler (409) rounded out the field.

Individually, Walker’s Joe Reich (38-35) took home medalist honors after defeating Yi, Lassiter’s Adam Wright (37-36) and Walker’s Barrett Kulik

(37-36) in a two-hole playoff.

Yi’s 73 set the tone in the clubhouse until the players found out there would be a four-way playoff.

Yi took himself out of contention for a third county championship after hitting his tee shot on the par-4 first hole out of bounds, and eventually settled for a double-bogey.

Despite putting himself in good position after driving in the fairway, Kulik was also eliminated on the first hole after watching his par putt rim out.

Reich and Wright both parred No. 1, but Reich won with a birdie on the par-4 ninth. Both players hit their tee shots onto the fairway.

Reich’s approach stopped six inches from the cup, while Wright unsuccessfully tried to extend the playoff with a 45-foot putt.

Reich’s easy birdie gave Walker its first individual champion at the county event.

“It’s a cool feeling,” said Reich, a sophomore, who won his first varsity medalist honor. “I’ve never won before. (Walker) didn’t even play in it last year, so it’s cool. It’s surreal, kind of. I’ve never been in this position.

“Going out to the first tee, I just went out there with an open mind and just try to make par. I thought par was probably going to win. If someone makes a birdie, then good for them, they beat me. But, that was my goal — make pars.”

Reich battled the weather like everyone else did, but he better navigated the course and playoff.

“The rain a couple of days ago really wet the course down and they were running slow,” he said. “The wind and the cold didn’t help at all. Your hands are freezing. You’d hit the ball and the wind would take it. There was a lot of guessing out there, just hoping the ball went the right way.

“I hit decent approach shots, which was my whole goal. I wanted to hit the ball straight and stay straight and then put the ball on the green and two-putt. I just wanted to make pars. As it went on, (dealing with the weather) got easier. But, it was still hard.”

Rounding out the top 10 individuals were Lassiter’s Brody Judd (75), Kennesaw Mountain’s Jonathan Keppler (75), Sheahan (76), Mount Paran teammates Mark Alford (76) and Tyler Young (78) and Walton’s Flynn (78).

“There were a lot of good people in here,” Reich said. “I think the guy that won state last year (Keppler) was here too. That’s something really cool. I’ve always wanted to be as good as him, so it’s cool to know that I beat him. It’s a confidence booster more than anything.”
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