Tuscola qualifies for regional golf tournament

Apr. 30—The Tuscola boys golf team is heading back to the regional championships.

The Mounties fired a lackluster 81-over par 369 on the final day of the Mountain 7 Conference golf tournament but Tuscola had enough of a cushion from the first two rounds to claim the third and final spot to next week's regional tournament.

Pisgah was crowned conference champion at the Springdale Resort Monday after the Bears finished the three-day tournament with a 945. Franklin was second with a 959 while the Mounties took third with a 1,042, 59 strokes ahead of fourth-place Smoky Mountain.

The Class 3A West Regional Golf Tournament on Tuesday will also be played at the Springdale Resort. It will feature 14 teams with the top three finishers advancing to the state golf tournament.

Sam Decker led the Mounties Monday with an 11-over par 83 while Jacob Edwards and Breyson Mallette both carded 91s. Lance Morgan fired a 104 while Ethan Hannah recorded a 106. Decker and Edwards both earned all-conference honors.

First-year Tuscola coach Erik Melville said consistent play throughout the season led the team to a regional berth.

"That was our goal at the start of the year," Melville said. "We knew we were behind Pisgah and behind Franklin, but we felt we were a solid third and that is where we were at all year."

Melville said that Monday's effort was "not our best round" from the top of the lineup to the bottom. The first round was played last Monday at Sky Valley in Georgia while the second round was played last Wednesday at Cummings Cove Golf and Country Club in Hendersonville.

"But luckily, we had built up enough of a lead over the first two days where it didn't matter," Melville said.

Tuscola will return to the Springdale Resort on Monday for a practice round before regional play. Melville said the Mounties familiarity with the layout will be a plus.

"Especially when we get some of the teams from the flat lands up here walking this mountain course," Melville said.

Decker's round was a tale of two nines after he opened the backside, which was the first nine holes the golfers played, with a 47. He was at 11-over par after just six holes.

But the junior played the final 12 holes at even par that included two birdies and two bogeys.

"Nothing worked on the back," Decker said. "I shot a 36 on the front, which is not bad. I was really disappointed with the 47. It really wasn't fun."

Melville pulled Decker aside after the first six holes for a little talk but that conversation will remain between player and coach, Melville said.

"(Decker) had hit the ball well the first three holes but he putted for bogey on all three holes. I think that got in his head a little bit and then he hit some loose shots. Once he got settled down he played pretty well."