Photo: Left to right, assistant coach Nick Hughes, Jacob Newsom, Chase Hughes, Emerson Majma, Christopher Crawford, coach Amanda Fisher, front row, Austin Anderson, Porter Hart, Ainslie Stanford III and Evyn Cannon.
By Ken MacLeod
For the third time in four years, Team Oklahoma is heading back to the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, Oct. 6-9.
This time, said coach Amanda Fisher, they are bringing the national championship back home.
“I think we are a better team than we were last year and we should have won it a year ago,” Fisher said. “Our five returnees have all grown and become better players and the three newcomers are all very good. We don’t have the bombers that we did a year ago but it’s a very good team.”
For the regional championship held this weekend at The Club at Indian Springs, Team Oklahoma went by its in-state name of Battle Creek All Stars I and wound up in the finals against the other Oklahoma entry also coached by Fisher. It defeated Battle Creek All Stars 2 10-2. Much credit to the second Battle Creek team for reaching the finals in an eight-team regional that included all-star teams from Illinois Kansas and Missouri.
Battle Creek 2 reached the finals with a 7-5 victory over the Hallbrook Hackers of Leawood, Kan., while Battle Creek 1 defeated Christensen Golf Academy of Quincy, Ill., 10.5 to 1.5. The eight-person teams divide into four two-man squads for nine-hole scramble matches in which each three-hole segment is worth a point for a win or ½ point for a tie.
As the competition wound down Sunday afternoon, most of the 11 or 12-year-olds that comprise the veteran team were fidgeting on the hill behind the 18th green on the Lakes Course, jabbing and punching each other, laughing and joking like the kids that they are.
You wouldn’t have been able to tell what the other teams were facing just minutes earlier.
In the final match, Chase Hughes, who now routinely hits 270-yard drives, stroked an 8-iron that one-hopped into the hole from 130 yards for eagle on the group’s seventh hole as he and Evyn Cannon shot 5-under. That was nothing compared to the pairing of Emerson Majma and Porter Hart, who were 9-under through eight holes with seven birdies and an eagle before making par at the last. Majma was particularly hot, making a 35-foot eagle putt and hitting numerous wedges to within short birdie putt range, while Hart also contributed some big birdie putts.
Team Oklahoma finished third in the nationals a year ago after being upset by Team Utah in the semifinals. Returning from that team are Cannon, Hughes, Hart, Majma and Ainslie Stanford III. Newcomers are Jacob Newsom, Christopher Crawford and Austin Anderson.
Following the match Fisher reminded the parents to make their plane reservations for Scottsdale quickly. The bet here is most of them were already set.
The finals will include live television on ESPN channels including Friday, Oct. 7, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. CDT on ESPN 2; Saturday Oct. 8 at 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on ESPNNEWS and Sunday, Oct. 9 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.