Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SPORTS >> Panthers’ pair finally tees off

Leader sports editor

It may have been worth the wait.

Cabot golfers Colby Benton and Kevan Sharp will finally tee off today in the Arkansas State Golf Association High School Overall at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock.

The 18-hole event was postponed from Oct. 15 because of rainy weather, which got decidedly worse as the month wore on.

But November opened under pristine fall skies, and if the weather holds, today’s rounds should be more pleasant than the rain-interrupted 7A state tournament the Panthers won in Fort Smith on Oct. 6.

“It looks like we’re going to finally get some weather for it,” Cabot coach Ronnie Tollett said.

Tollett said his players haven’t been gathering rust and didn’t expect the rest of the boys’ and girls’ fields of more than 20 — if the qualifiers from all classifications accept their invitations — to be rusty either.

“You don’t have to be in condition enough to have to run and jump and all that,” Tollett said. “It’s about timing and tempo. I think most of them probably lost three or four or five days. Ours were back on the golf course all weekend and I’m sure the others were back on the course as well.”

Cabot plays at Greystone Golf Course and the players sometimes use the Rolling Hills Country Club course. Tollett said the Hardscrabble course in Fort Smith, where the Panthers won their team title, is more hilly than Pleasant Valley but is more similar to today’s site than the other places the Panthers have played.

“We’ve played three matches in the rain, we’ve played under wet conditions,” Tollett said. “We’ve tried to play different types of courses just to get as much experience as we can.

“Regardless of the venue, we’ve challenged. We have some other golfers here who very well could have been there this week. Unfortunately they only take three kids from our classification.”

Benton shot a 72 and Sharp a 73 in the state tournament. Benton carried a 72.4 stroke average into the event and Sharp had a 73.2.

“They earned the right to participate in it,” Tollett said of the Overall. “They go out and have a good round and they’ll have a good chance to win. It speaks to the kids and the work ethic.”

The Overall has been reduced from 27 to 18 holes because of the installation of new greens on the third nine at Pleasant Valley.

“If you knock it in the water or catch one wrong and hit it over the green or something like that, you’re looking at a potential double bogey,” Tollett said. “And double bogeys can come back to haunt you. So you’ve got to keep it consistent, keep in the short grass, hit the greens and two-putt