Auburn is the Region C 2017 golf champion, a first for the school. The regional win comes just a week after Auburn lost to George Wythe in the Mt. Empire District Tournament. GW is the defending state champ but will not be given a chance to defend the team title after the regional loss Auburn shot a 320 to GW’s 322 on the Homestead’s Old Course in Hot Springs. Galax finished in third place.
Auburn could be in the driver’s seat for a team title, and Coach Jeff Gandee is proud of his team’s effort in advancing.
“We had a great team meeting the night before and I stressed emotions. Golf is such a mental game and told them you have to keep the bad emotions inside and let the good emotions out. All my guys were focused and showed a lot of positive emotion with a lot of fist pumps and excitement. I feel this showed all the other players we were here to win. They never hung their head down and played with heart. We came out with a plan and it worked,” he said.
Carter Vance took medalist honors for Auburn by shooting a 6-under 66. Jentzen Gore also totaled a 74 for the winners.
Vance has been Auburn’s top player the past two seasons, and has consistently shot well this entire fall season.
“Vance played unbelievable under the pressure of playing in regional’s. I knew he would play well because he has confidence in his game. He got beat at districts in a playoff and I know he was disappointed and didn’t want that to happen again. Carter plays or hits range balls almost every day so he puts in the work to be good,” Gandee said.
Other team scores included Austin Kirtner 84 and Slater Linkous 96.
The Auburn coach was a little overwhelmed in receiving the coach of the year honor. This is the first time, he has won regional coach of the year.
“I might be the coach but my players are the ones that made this possible. I am their biggest fan while they are playing and they all know that,” he said.
The Eagles do not know who could be the team to watch when they reach the state tournament, but Gandee is optimistic one of those could be the Eagles.
“I haven’t seen team scores from other regions, which will be at state, but I feel our chances are good. If we come out focus like we did at regional’s then anything is possible. It’s nice to win regional’s but our job isn’t done until we win state,” he said.
Auburn has never won a state title in golf but maybe that will change this year.
The state tournament is slated for October 9-10 at Heritage Oaks Golf Club in Harrisonburg.