The Westminster boys’ golf team secured its second consecutive Class 3A state championship and 10th overall at the Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell May 21.
The Wildcats posted an overall team score of 13-under-par, which was the only mark in the red in the entire competition, 45 strokes ahead of second-place Lovett. Westminster’s winning margin was the largest in GHSA history for a two-day state tournament.
Leading the efforts was freshman William Love, who won the individual title with a score of nine-under. The mark set the Westminster school record for the lowest two-day score of 135 and the two lowest individual rounds in state championship history at 68 and 67, respectively. Love was also named to first team all-state.
“The state tournament proved to be William’s most consistent tournament of the year,” Wildcats head coach Andy Dunn said. “William played very smart at the state tournament and made sure to leave himself exactly where he wanted to hit from inside the fairway both days. He is a great golfer and I’m very proud of his season and how he matured.”
Love credits his coaching staff and intense preparations for his success at the state tourney.
“With the help of my coaches, I was able to adjust to every shot and stay focused on where I needed to hit the ball,” he said. We’ve played that golf course so many times before, so that helped. I knew where I needed to place the ball on every shot. We had team meetings every night about pin placement (and) how to play certain holes and mentally prepare for what we needed to do.”
Westminster got off to a hot start and shot six-under in the first round and had a 24-shot lead in the team competition. Love had a three-shot lead in the individual standings ahead of teammate Sam Lape, who finished second overall.
“We had some comfort level but knew that anything could happen,” Love said. “Going into the second round, we were confident, especially me and Sam.”
Earning the individual and team state titles as a freshman was a satisfying moment for Love.
“I was a little nervous especially the first day teeing off because I had all of my friends and family watching,” he said. “I was more calm the second day. It meant a lot to me because I knew I was going up against many good players, including my own teammates, so it was cool to win individually. It was also great for the team and for Sam to finish off his high school career with a win like that.”
Love’s maturation through his freshman campaign has been noted by the Westminster program.
“He is a great teammate, provides insight and advice to the team like a golfer who has been in the program for four years,” Dunn said. “While he is only a freshman, he plays well past his years. I have never seen a young man, at his age, hit the ball as far as William does. William has all the tools to be successful, from long drives, soft touch around the greens and a good mental game as well.
Love also brings an aggressive style to the links.
“William attacks the golf course and often his risk is also his reward,” Dunn said.
Said Love, “My coaches like my strategy of being an overall aggressive player. For the first four or five holes in a round, I’ll try to play safe by hitting fairways and the middle of the green, getting two putts for par and if one goes for birdie, that’s great. Once I get later in the round, I’ll start firing towards tougher pins and playing a more aggressive style.”
The son of David and Valerie Love has been playing golf since he was 3 years old, and has participated in competitive events for eight years. He was part of the Team Georgia squad which won the PGA Junior League in 2017.
“It helped because I’ve played many individual tournaments and learned to control my nerves,” he said. “It’s become easier to hit the first tee shot. I love and hate how hard the sport is. What got me hooked is going to the range and hitting a bunch of bad shots, but then hitting that one good shot which brings you back because you want to do replicate that.”
Love said Brooks Koepka is his favorite golfer. “I love his mindset and how he stays in the present trying to hit the current shot and not looking ahead,” he said. “He’s unfazed by anything and I try to be like that.”
Love has attended Westminster since pre-first grade and enjoys playing recreational basketball. “It’s fun to get out and play with friends,” he said. “It helps my golf game because it relaxed me before a tournament and the running gave me good conditioning.”
Off the course, Love’s favorite subject is physics and finished the academic year with a 4.0 grade point average. He also volunteers at the lower school during the school year and assists the young golfers at Westminster during summer camp as a mentor. Love plans to volunteer with the First Tee organization in Georgia.
Love will stay active this summer playing in the Georgia State Amateur Championship at the Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course in Roswell starting July 11 and the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple course in Woodstock July 16. He lists those as his favorite two local golf courses.