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Cheek, Lady Rams struggle at AAAAA golf tournament

COVINGTON - Even though Region 2-AAAAA boys medalist Landon Cheek and the Newton girls knew what to expect at the Class AAAAA state golf tournaments at Jekyll Island, the courses still got the best of them.

Cheek, who played as an individual, shot a 36-hole total of 171 at the Oleander Golf Course. Meanwhile, the Newton girls finished 15th out of 16 teams, beating only region foe Union Grove in 18 holes at Indian Mound Golf Course.

The Lady Rams finished with a team score of 238, six strokes better than Union Grove.

Cheek started the day shooting an 81 the first time around the course before completing the second 18 holes with a 90.

"In his practice round, he played decent. He shot 78 or 79. He knew exactly how he wanted to play every shot," Newton boys coach Gus Condon said. "He knew how he wanted to take the approach. Obviously, he's been there three years in a row. He felt good going into it.

"He got to the course and I could tell he was ready. He got off to a good start. I think on the first nine he was 4 over. At No. 11, he was on in two and ended up three-putting. I felt that was a turning point for him."

The greens were a problem for Cheek. They played a lot slower than what he is used to at The Oaks.

While Cheek struggled with the greens, Harrison's James White did not. The Georgia Tech-bound low medalist set a new state record, shooting a two-round total of 7-under 132. White had a 65 the first time around before adding a 67 for his second round.

"He kept playing, but he knew it wasn't his day. I would put him up against any of those guys down there. It was one of those days where things didn't go his way," Condon said. "I was proud of him. I would've liked for him to go out on a good, strong note and finish in the top 10. He's totally capable of it, but it just wasn't his day."

Newton senior Ashley Anthony repeated her region performance, leading the girls with a 117. Anthony made the turn with a 55 before scoring a 62 on the back nine.

"The biggest thing was that the course was longer than they were used to in the past. The distance was a big factor," Newton girls coach Kay Wright said. "They're not used to playing 18 holes."

Helping Anthony establish the team score was sophomore Brianna Williams. Even with a 13 on one of the holes, Williams managed the second-lowest score with a 62 and a 60 for a round of 122.

"She had one hole where she had 13, but she had several pars. That's what I expect out of her," Wright said.

While the girls did not finish better than last year, which was one of their goals, they learned a lot about managing their game.

"Our goal was to improve on each aspect of our game, like distance and the short game," Wright said. "We wanted to make smarter decisions about club choice and play a smarter game. We're still working on that."

Mill Creek won the tournament with a 154. Leading the Hawks was Emily Burger, who was the medalist with a 1-over-par 73.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.