COVINGTON - The Newton girls golf team and Landen Cheek proved that they are hard to beat at home as they won the Region 2-AAAAA golf tournament Monday at The Oaks Course.
Cheek was the boys low medalist for the third time posting an even-par 71 while the girls had a come-from behind 208-209 victory over Union Grove to capture the title.
By winning, the boys low medalist Cheek, along with the Newton girls team, will be able to compete in the Class AAAAA state tournament on Jekyll Island on May 5.
"It feels really good to win it three times in a row. I'm still playing good and just getting better and I showed it," the Newton senior said.
The battle for the region championship was fought for most of the day between Cheek and Luella's Steven Slaughter.
Cheek was up by two strokes early in the tournament after shooting 1-under par on the first and fourth hole.
All that changed when Cheek hit his tee shot off the fifth hole out of bounds and had to take a double bogey on the hole.
The two-stroke swing put Cheek at even par through six holes and gave Slaughter a one-stroke advantage.
Things started going Cheek's way at the turn where both players were tied at 1-over par.
"I kept making a bunch of putts, the greens are rolling terrific. I turned on in the back side and shot 1-under," Cheek said. "When I made par on 17, I knew that I would win."
While Cheek was able to win individual honors, the team sort of lagged finishing in third place.
Scoring for the boys with Cheek were Payton Bundy (77), Colby Westbrook (102) and George Clackum (104).
Playing for Newton were Morgan Page (107) and Josh Williams (125).
"We've got some first time golfers and we knew it would be close against Union Grove, that's what we've come to expect," Newton boys coach Gus Condon said. "But I'm proud of our guys."
Luella won the region tournament with a score of 330 with Union Grove taking runner up with a 346.
Winning for Luella were Slaughter (76), Ryan Hill (84), Drew Wilson (84) and Noah Nettleton (86).
Giving Union Grove runner up status and a trip to the Class AAAAA state tournament were Ty Rachels (83), Brent Smith (83), Kyle Miller (86) and J.T. Brannan (94).
In the girls tournament, Newton was in second place, 10-strokes behind Union Grove, when Brianna Williams, playing in the No. 4 spot, posted a 105 giving Newton a 208-209 win for the region title.
"I've been playing since sixth grade but I haven't played for three years. I had more concentration this time and really focused on what I was doing," Williams said.
The hole that Williams said helped her post her low score was the 120-yard No. 11,
After taking a driver to clear the water, her shot ended up by the flag stick allowing Williams to par the hole.
"I focused and hit my driver and put extra force behind the ball and got right by the flag," she said.
She shot a 55 on the back nine then came back with a 50 after making the turn.
Prior to coming off the course with her score, the Lady Rams were put into the position to win with Ashley Anthony's 103.
"I knew (Williams) had done really well coming around the turn. She was at 55 and I knew that if she maintained that or did a little better we'd have a great chance. She came through for us," Newton girls coach Kay Wright said. "Ashley had done really well until the last two holes. We were hoping that she would be low medalist. This is a wonderful feeling, I'm so proud."
Before Williams posted her score, the Union Grove girls were excited and feeling like champions.
Knowing that all Newton had on the course was a No. 4 player they were filled with joy. But they soon became a somber group when the score was posted and the totals tallied.
"I feel like I have to do even better because I'm the underdog and I have to prove myself to everybody," Williams said. "I feel like I have to play twice as hard, I feel like I did."
On the course for the Newton girls were Adrienne Kitchens (116) and Lydia Mikula (119).
"She's been consistent and she have a beautiful swing. I knew it would be a matter of time before she got back into the grove. This is her low score of the year," Wright said of Williams.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.