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May 7, 2013

PREP GOLF: Cold Springs, Cullman earn state tourney berths

Layne Rice is heading back to the state golf tournament. But this time, he’s taking the rest of the Cold Springs golf team, too.

The Eagle No. 1 tackled an extremely difficult TP Country Club course to snag his latest low-medalist honor, propelling Cold Springs to a runner-up result at the Class 1A-2A North 4 Sub-State Tournament and its first state appearance in school history.

Holy Spirit turned in four solid scores to win with a 333, edging the Eagles by 10 strokes and third-place Decatur Heritage by 38.

“We’re so excited. I felt like we had a good shot of making it the entire time since we were so close last year,” coach Adam McKinnon said of his Cold Springs squad missing out by just two strokes in 2012. “I guess you kind of get here and get to the point where we really wanted to win today, but qualifying was the goal to start with, so I guess we’ll take it.”

Even though Rice had completed 14 holes before rain brought play to a screeching halt on Monday, he was one of the biggest proponents of beginning from scratch the following day. Based on his final score, Rice sure was thankful to have a fresh start. Only two golfers even came within six strokes of the junior’s 78 — teammate Tristan Williams and Holy Spirit’s Jon Dever.

“It feels great going into state knowing I’m playing good,” said Rice, who was also the low-medalist at last week’s sectional tourney. “Hopefully I can give it a run and win state — and win state as a team, too.”

Rounding out the Eagles were Michael Gilliland, 87, as well as Nick Speer and Kevin Harris, who both carded 94s.

McKinnon was thrilled to see his two seniors, Gilliland and Speer, presented with the opportunity to advance after all the work they’ve put in during their prep golf careers.

“I’m extremely happy for those guys,” the coach said. “They’ve been playing since the eighth and ninth grade.”

Soggy conditions and extended tees were to thank for high scores all across the board. No hole was more challenging than the 14th, a par 3 playing 212 yards from a make-shift tee box not far from the edge of the water. With out of bounds lurking on the left and a bunker sitting on the right, many golfers were forced to try their luck at being accurate with their woods and hybrids.

The key word was try, as less than a handful of players were successful in reaching the green.

“Patrick (Drake) had to be mean and move the tees all the way back,” Rice said with a laugh, referring to TP’s director of golf. “It was real tough, just crazy.”

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