SANDESTIN — Her own success Tuesday in the Region 1A girls golf tournament is not what brought senior Abby Herrmann the greatest reward.
Rather, it was joining her Catholic High teammates in getting a photo with another first place trophy and planning another trip to the state championship tournament.
With Herrmann producing a 3-over 75 on the demanding, water framed Links Golf Course at Sandestin Resort, it helped propel the Crusaders to their third region title in her prep career.
“I would rather have the team win this tournament and go to state, then qualifying by myself,” said Herrmann, who is heading to Memphis next year to join the women’s golf program. “I’ve had a really good year. My stroke average was under par for nine hole matches. I never really have any expectation for this kind of tournament, other than I just want to play well.”
Charity golf weekend raises $170,000 for local causes
The Crusaders dominated the girls team race with their well-balanced team. Payton Pacheco, a freshman and younger sister of Florida Gators golfer Madison Pacecho, who annually finished well in the state tournament, started her own mark with an 80 for the Crusaders’ second-best score. All four players behind Herrmann shot in the 80’s.
“I am super fortunate with the girls I’ve had come through this school,” said Catholic coach Eric Deninger, in his fourth season. His team leaves Sunday for the Class 1A state tournament at Mission Inn near Orlando. “They learned a lot (in Monday practice round) and they stuck to their game plans,” Denniger said. “Each one of them had gameplan written out and they stuck to it.”
The good fortunate did not carry over, however, to the Crusaders’ boys team. For the first time in 12 years, Catholic won’t be represented in the boys state tournament next week, which is also at Mission Inn. Catholic finished fourth overall among the eight teams.
Taylor County, led by senior Cole Wentworth, who won the tournament with a 74, won the team title for the first time in school history.
“Our guys tried their best and that’s all you can ask,” said Catholic coach Sonny Reedy. “They have been a lot of fun to be around.. I am excited about the future.
“It just happened to be one of those years where the other teams had a little bit better golfers than we did. It will be very strange not going..It will be diferent not making lesson plans for the week and missing my students in class (while at state tourney.”
Catholic’s top boys player, A.J. Pankyo had misfortune of getting disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, though it did not factor into whether he would have advanced or not. But after playing partners signed off on his score, one of them then said there was a stroke difference on a hole after Pankyo already had signed the card.
The tournament itself was initially set to be at the A.C. Read Golf Course on Pensacola Naval Air Station, which has hosted the event for the past several years. However, Reedy knew that with the added security measures in place on the base, it would have been too problematic to get everyone through the entrance for a golf tournament.
“We didn’t want to take the chance of having families drive all the way from Tallahassee and other places and not be able to get on the base,” Reedy said. “But I totally understand the need for extra security.And whatever (Navy) says needs to be done, I am all for that.”
Many of the teams, Catholic included, had never played at The Links, one of the courses at the renown Sandestin Resort. It offers dramatic vistas of the bay and has water in play on virtually every hole.
“It was kind of difficult off the tee, but if you got it in play then it was open to shoot a good score,” said Herrmann, who did not lose a golf ball to a water hazard the entire round. “You had to just know what club to hit. You didn’t want to hit driver all the time. That was the main thing… to have a good practice round to know where the water was.”