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April 17, 2013

Prep golf: Blair leads North Murray girls to Region 5-3A title

At last year’s Region 7-2A girls golf tournament at the Elks Course in Calhoun, North Murray High School’s Jocelyn Blair shot a 9-over-par 81 and finished second.

On Tuesday in the Region 5-3A tournament on the same course, Blair’s score was four strokes higher than last year but more than enough to claim medalist honors. The senior carded an 85 — seven strokes ahead of runner-up Courtney Cochran of Adairsville — and the Lady Mount-aineers shot a combined 278 to win the team title by nearly 50 strokes over Adairsville (326).

Blair, a senior, was joined by Tillie Hughes (96), while Dara Dople and Halie Sheram each shot a 97. Teams are allowed to play four players for the tournament, with the best three scores counting toward the team total.

The medalist had a roller coaster of a day on the course, shooting a 3-over 39 on her first nine and struggling on her final nine with a 46. After the first five holes of her final nine, she was 8 over but managed to control her game the rest of the way. It also helped that she was playing with Cochran and knew where they stood throughout the match.

“That made it a little easier,” Blair said. “It got a little close there at the end. She cut my lead to three strokes at one point, and it could have changed really quick. I played her last year at region, and I knew she would be tough.”

Blair said the course played longer this year compared to last season as several of the tees were pushed back or played from different boxes.

“I am happy to have the title, but I would have much rather had a better score,” she said. “They backed us up a little. The back is longer than the front already, and that is where I struggled. I have had my good and bad today.

“My short game was good today. All my putts were close if I didn’t make them. We haven’t been able to play as much as we have in the past because of all of the rain this spring, so that might have hurt as well.”

Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette said despite her struggles, Blair kept her composure.

“She responded the way a senior leader would and didn’t let her rough start on the back get the better of her,” he said. “She focused on the next shot and worked her way through it. She has been steady for us the last three years, and I can’t brag enough about her.”

North Murray is the only team from the region that will play in the postseason, competing in the Class 3A state tournament May 20 at Chateau Elan in Braselton. Region champions automatically qualify for state, while other teams can qualify for sectionals if they hit their state qualifying mark — 320 in Class 2A, which no one outside of the Lady Mountaineers met.

Blair, who said she plans to play at Reinhardt College, is looking forward to competing at Chateau Elan, a course where she has had past success.

“We actually had a tournament there a couple of weeks ago, and I won that tournament,” she said. “We have a good idea of what that course will play like.”

Coahulla Creek only had two players on its team and couldn’t compete for the team title. Abbi Tate shot a 122 for the Lady Colts, while Presley Whitfield finished with a 126.

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