April 16, 2013

Playing it cool

North Murray’s Hipp stays calm late, earns state invite

Chris Whitfield

CHATSWORTH — Playing at the top of the lineup card for North Murray High School’s boys golf team isn’t new for Colby Hipp. He’s been in that spot for a couple of years now, and he has faced pressure during his four years with the Mountaineers.

So when the senior found himself down a stroke with one hole to play within his grouping of fellow No. 1 golfers at the Region 5-3A tournament Monday at Indian Trace Golf Course, Hipp didn’t falter.

Instead, he landed his tee shot to the back middle of the par-3 18th green and ran a 25-footer straight into the bottom of the cup to capture the birdie and win his grouping with a 2-over-par 74.

“I got away with some mistakes today, but I made some really good putts to make up for it,” Hipp said. “I was down a stroke to (Ringgold’s) Thomas Brooks going into 18, and that birdie turned it all around.

“I thought that was going to win it, and I think everyone thought the same thing.”

But it was the group behind him that produced the medalist.

Ringgold’s Jordan Estes — listed as the Tigers’ No. 2 golfer — shot a 1-over 73 to finish first and push the Tigers to a team score of 319, the region title and a second straight trip to the state tournament. Despite being edged by Estes for medalist honors, Hipp still qualified for state by having the lowest score from a non-qualifying team.

Sonoraville was second with a score of 337, finishing three strokes under the state sectional tournament qualifying score of 340. No other teams from the region will advance to the sectional. Coahulla Creek finished with a 376 for fourth place, while the Mountaineers had a 378 for fifth in the eight-team tournament.

With a variety of region tournaments scheduled over the next two weeks, Monday’s action teed off the postseason for area prep golf.

North Murray and Coahulla Creek’s girls will compete in the Region 5-3A tournament this morning at Calhoun’s Elks Golf Course. Next Monday, Dalton Golf and Country Club will host Dalton, Northwest Whitfield, Southeast Whitfield and rest of the Region 7-4A’s boys for their tournament. Also that day, Christian Heritage’s boys will play in the Area 4-A private schools tournament at Coosa Country Club in Rome and Murray County’s girls will play in the Region 7-2A tournament at the Elks Course in Calhoun.

Action returns to Indian Trace next Tuesday with the Region 7-4A girls tournament, and the Murray County boys close out the region tournament slate with their 7-2A competition on April 25 at Fields Ferry in Calhoun.

State sectional tournaments will be played on May 6, with state tournaments on May 20 at various locations throughout the state, including the Class 3A boys event at Reunion Country Club in Hoschton. The Class 4A boys state tournament will be at Dalton Golf and Country Club and the Class 4A girls state tournament is at Nob North in Cohutta.

On Monday, Hipp was on the number for most of the day and had only one bad hole on his card. Sitting at 1-under after six holes thanks to a birdie on the par-3 fifth, Hipp came to the par-4 dogleg right 7th.

Trying to cut the corner with a fade, Hipp clipped one of the hanging limbs of the oaks lining the right and lost his tee shot. He reloaded and hit nearly the identical shot with the ball hitting the same limb and caroming down onto the lower tee box.

He finished with a triple-bogey on the hole, but he quickly recovered with a birdie on the par-5 No. 8 and another on No. 9 for a 37. His putting carried him most of the day, with just 14 putts on the back nine.

“This is a tough course to go low on,” Hipp said. “I hit (the tee shot on No. 7) exactly the way that I wanted to on both shots. I just didn’t expect it to get up so quickly and hit that hanging limb both times.”

Coahulla Creek No. 2 golfer Brannon Wilson had the low round for the Colts, finishing with an 81. He was joined by Alec Longmire (92), Austin Cole (101) and Ian Conway (101).

Other scoring rounds for North Murray came from Adrian Patino (93), Zach Sanford (103) and Luke Bearden (108).