Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 21, 2014

GC Golf: Tigers head to district tournament with confidence

By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Confidence, confidence, confidence ...

That’s what Corsicana golf coach Robert August tells his kids every day.

And here’s the best part — they listen.

“He really motivates us to get better. It’s not just a job for him,’’ said Madi Hodge, the girls team’s No. 1 golfer. “It’s his passion for us.

“Thanks to Coach August, he has turned us into a whole new golf team. We went from playing as individuals to being a team — to playing together and pushing each other.’’

And somewhere along the way, everybody — from the top golfer to the last member on the team — just got better and better.

That’s why August and his golfers feel so good about going into the District 16-4A tournament next week. There are two rounds, one on Monday and the final round on Wednesday.

And no one is more confident than August, who believes his boys team can win the district title and his girls can be in the hunt for a top 3 finish.

“I hear it’s going to be really tough competition,’’ August said during practice on Thursday at the Corsicana Country Club. “But we’re definitely in the hunt. I think we’re the sleeper. No one expects us to do much.’’

The Tigers already have done a lot, especially the boys team.

They have won their last two tournaments and seem to be rising to the occasion, peaking just as they enter the district tournament.

Corsicana’s boys won the team title at the Alvarado Tournament held at Cleburne Links on March 7, and they came right back to in the Woodrow Wilson Tournament in Dallas at the Tennison Highlands course.

The original Tennison course is famous for being the learning ground for PGA Hall of Famer Lee Trevino, who played there as a kid.

“I tried to expand their game by putting hem on tough, competitive course,’’ August said. “At first it ate our lunch but they got better. We won at Cleburne Links, which is a hidden gem, and we won at Tennison Highlands.’’

The Tigers not only won back-to-back tournaments, but the top boys  golfers emerged.

Brody Phillips, a freshman, won the silver, taking second place at Cleburne with a 74 n the demanding course, and Brady Watson was right behind him with a third place finish at 75. Matt Shelton finished in the top 10 at Cleburne.

The Corsicana boys were even better at Tennison, where they pulled off a clean sweep, finishing 1-2-3. Watson took home the gold, Phillips was second and Luke Jordan took third in the tournament.

The Tigers also took home a third-place finish in the Waxahachie Tournament on  March 6.

The girls team finished third at Waxahachie as Hodge took home the bronze, and they are coming off a second-place finish in the Maypearl Spring Classic at Country View in Lancaster.

“We have been really playing well,’’ August said. “We’ve really been climbing, the whole team.’’

Everything changed when August arrived.

“My kids had the attitude that golf is just a Country Club recreational activity,’’ August said. “I told them, ‘No, this is a competitive UIL sport.’ And they have played competitively all year.’’

Corsicana has had success in the past, but August wants to change the climate and environment about golf at the school, where they have had four golf coaches in four years.

“I’ve gone through four coaches in four years,’’ said Watson, a senior. “I knew he was going to help us when he came here. He came out and showed us he cared about us. He connected with us.’’

Watson said he has seen everyone on the team improve.

“He really helped us with our mental approach, and I think our work ethic is much better,’’ Watson said. “I’ve improved tremendously. Brody and I motivate each other and help each other, and everyone has gotten better.’’

Phillips said the key to winning the district title will come down to everyone. The difference this season is a simple 1-2 punch.

“We have five good people,’’ Phillips said. “We’re mentally tougher.’’

Those two ingredients have brought both the girls and boys teams this far.

Watson, Phillips, Jordan, Shelton and Sam Hooser have all made giant strides in their game, and the four girls — Hodge, Kristen Moody, Ally Watson and Mariana Haddenham — have all turned the game around.

“All of the girls have improved by 15 to 20 strokes,’’ August said. “And there are no seniors on the girls team.’’

It feels like a new foundation.

“Kristen and me have gotten three times better,’’ Hodge said.

And it has changed their attitude going into the district meet.

“We’re more confident,’’ Moody said. “We now feel like we have a chance.’’

That’s the idea. Corsicana is in the hunt. August defers all the credit to the kids, and said he can’t thank the Corsicana Country Club and assistant pro Chase Parks enough.

“The Country Club has been unbelievably supportive,’’ said August, who plans to host a local golf tournament there in the future. He wants golf to grow and build a program that will last.

“Maybe we are resurrecting the pride of the golf program,’’ August said.

Winning a district title next week would be a giant step toward that goal.

“We’re going to be the underdogs,’’ August said. “And when you’re the underdog you can’t be timid and you can’t be intimidated. We have play aggressively to win, and not play not to lose.’’

The program is on the right track and it has already been a memorable and breakthrough season.

“I’m unbelievably excited about our potential,’’ August said. ”We have been on a steady incline of performance.

 “The boys have a better shot to win the district title, but my girls could be a Rocky Balboa.

“We just have to go into the district tournament with confidence.’’

That’s it — confidence, confidence, confidence ...