UP'S Hoadley Conquers Rain, Winds, Keith Hills
Robert Hoadley, Union Pines' No. 1 ranked and defending 3-A state champion golfer, shot a four-under-par 68 Monday in Buies Creek on Keith Hills Country Club's Creek Course.
The round was good enough to earn the Vike junior medalist honors in the Cape Fear Valley Conference golf meet hosted by Harnett Central.
Hoadley had seven birdies and three bogeys on a rainy, windy and chilly afternoon on the links.
Through 15 holes, he was 6-under-par before dropping two strokes on the final three holes when the already poor weather became even more miserable as the temperature dropped and the wind and rain picked up.
After starting his round with a three-putt bogey on the 380-yard, par-4 10th, Hoadley strung together three birdies. After sinking nice puts on the par-4 11th and 12th holes, he hit a hybrid to 10 feet with his second shot on the 518-yard, par-5 13th hole. His eagle attempt just lipped out, leaving him a tap-in for a third straight bird.
He picked up another birdie on the 139-yard, par-3 17th and made the turn by carding a 33 on his first nine holes. On the par-5 second, he just missed another birdie after a three-footer failed to fall. Hoadley then strung together another three-birdie stretch on holes 3 through 5.
Again, he would hit another shot stiff on his third stroke on the par-5 6th hole, but failed to convert a four-footer. On his second nine, he finished with a one-under 35, finishing off his 68 effort for the day.
"My swing is feeling really good (right now)," Hoadley said after the round. "The one thing I know I am going to work on is my short game. I didn't get up and down once today and that killed me, especially on the par 5s, because normally I can take advantage of the five pars out here. I should have gotten those birdies on holes two and six."
Hoadley says that his season has been going really well coming off last year's state title win.
"I haven't thought about last year too much," he said. "The main goal is to get to the regional first, and also I am team-oriented. I want to see this bunch succeed.
"We have a really good team, and I feel that we can make a real run for the conference and maybe even do something in the team regional."
Vike head golf coach Stuart Taylor feels his junior captain is the best player in the state.
"Robert is going to qualify for the U.S. Amateur this year," he said. "He played really well today, shooting a 68 in these conditions on Campbell University's home course. He has great ball-striking skills to be so young, but he also has a grand team spirit.
"He genuinely cares about his teammates and wants them to excel even though he is carrying the team with his scores. He is always shooting low numbers."
On the year, Hoadley is sporting a 70.7 strokes per round average and has shot even or below par on the card in eight of his 10 nine-hole scores (34, 36, 34, 36, 34, 35, 33, 35).
Sam Tucker, the Vikings' No. 2 golfer, got around the Creek Course with a score of 80. After the round, Tucker admitted that he was mildly pleased with his performance. "I did OK," he said. "The conditions were pretty tough out there with the cold and rain."
As a team, the Vikings are currently in second place in the conference standings after six league meets. Taylor says the season has been "sweet and sour" up to this point.
"We are a little frustrated that our scores have not been as good as we think they ought to be," he said, "but we are second in the conference and seem to be moving in the right direction. We have three young freshmen that we are real excited about in Connor Reilly, Brandon Mawyer and Trevor Owens. They are still developing, but coming along well for the future.
"All of my freshmen have such great energy and optimism about the future that it makes me feel young too. We are looking forward to The Pilot Cup and playing against Pinecrest. We would like to try and see if we can dust a few of those boys off, and we are also excited about the regional in our conference. This year it is being held at Alamance Country Club in Burlington. It is a real fine golf course. We also hope to have a few guys get to the states."
Union Pines takes to the links again next Monday at Anderson Creek Golf Club in Spring Lake in a conference meet hosted by the Overhills Jaguars. Then Union Pines will compete in The Pilot Cup Golf Tournament, Wednesday 23, in Pinehurst on the Course No. 4 along with Pinecrest, O'Neal and North Moore.
The Vikings compete in the regionals on May 5.
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