Austin Northern named Athlete of the Week
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Northern fired a round of 71 at the state 4-A Western Regional tournament held at Northstone Country Club in Huntersville on May 5.
The round was good enough to earn one of three available individual bids into the state tournament, which begins Monday in Sanford.
Northern has a tee-time of 8 a.m. He is the first member of the Watauga boys' golf team to play the state tournament since 2005.
Northern's round earned him Athlete of the Week honors, which is given by Watauga's coaches and administration. It's the first time he's won the award.
It's also the first time he's ever shot a 71, which was good for a 1-under par. Northern has shot a 72 before, but Monday's round was his best.
Northern said he goes into the state tournament playing some of the best golf he's ever played.
"I've had two of my best rounds here in the past month," Northern said. "I shot a 72 in Boone a couple of days ago, and then I shot a 71 at Northstone, so it's been just a blessing recently."
Northern, who also was the backup quarterback on Watauga's football team, has never seen the course and Samford. He and his coach, who doubles as his father Mike Northern, plan to go to the Lake Course at Carolina Trace Country Club in Samford on Sunday to get in a practice round.
"I've heard it's a good course, but I don't know much about it," Mike Northern said. "We're going to play a practice round on Sunday in preparation for it."
Austin Northern finished fifth overall in the state tournament. Charlotte Myers Park's Henry Simp won the regional, with a 5-under, 67.
Myers Park also won the team competition, which meant Simp did not take up an individual slot for the state tournament since Myers Park qualified its whole team.
Cornelius Hough and Charlotte Providence also qualified their teams. The next best three finishers not on one of the Top 3 teams also qualified.
Northern said the Northstone course was difficult, but the smooth greens made putting easier. He finished with four birdies -- three straight -- but also bogeyed three holes. Two of his bogeys were three-putts.
"I could have shot a 70 or a 68, but I didn't always putt very well," he said.
He also said that the individual holes were long, but they had a lot of curves. Northern said it was important to hit accurate drives to put himself in a position to take advantage of the smooth greens.
"It had a lot of everything," Northern said. "It's got a lot of elevation for a course in Charlotte. It plays tough. We played there last year for regionals and I think I shot an 85. This year, the greens were almost perfect. It was like putting on wood."
Northern also said he was working on his swing during the week, and it paid off at the regional.
"I wanted it to be more consistent," Northern said. "I wanted to hit the fairway, then the green. I can't try to make birdie from the tee. I have to find the fairway first, then the green and then try to make birdie."