Last year's collapse mystifies Musketeers

A year ago, when the Academy of Richmond County boys golf team expected to win the school's third state championship in the sport, the six players surveyed the first hole at Bartram Trail Golf Course: a par-4 with a water hazard to the left.

Three of them found the water.

That was just the start of their misfortune on a day so different from the rest of the season, they're still shaking their heads about it.

Here's how it went last year: No one shot better than 76. Two top players couldn't break 80. Rival Lakeside captured the crown.

"Basically, it was awful," ARC's Clark Palmer said.

Today, the Musketeers will be back at the same place but insist the result will be different.

ARC, in its eighth consecutive state tournament appearance, is among 16 teams teeing off in Class AAAA competition at Bartram Trail, one of 10 courses across Georgia holding a championship today.

Other area teams seeking state titles include Greenbrier (AAAA boys), Burke County (AAA boys and girls), Thomson (AAA girls), Westside (AA boys), Jefferson County (AA boys) and Laney (AA girls).

ARC will try to stick around longer this time. In 2007, they certainly weren't about to hang out and watch Lakeside celebrate.

"We just signed our scorecards and left," said Shepherd Archie III, a senior who will play at Florida A&M. He shot a team-best 76 a year ago for a team that included three golfers now playing in Division I and two others who will join them.

Last week, the Musketeers gathered in coach Gene Crislip's office and resolved to avoid making the same mistakes.

"We were overconfident, and we can't do that (today)," said Palmer, a junior who has committed to play at North Carolina.

Palmer's play last season mirrored his team's. He shot a blistering 70 in the decisive regional win, then had 81 at states.

Rounding out Crislip's lineup this season are Cameron Spears, Martin Manning, William Sigg and Dabney Brantham.

"You can't just show up and win ... nothing's that easy" Crislip said. "(They) know that this time."

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

GHSA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Where today's tournaments are being held:

CLASS - BOYS - GIRLS

AAAAA - Jekyll Island Golf Resort - Jekyll Island Golf Resort

AAAA - Bartram Trail - Forest Hills

AAA - Hawks' Ridge G.C. (Ballground) - Trophy Club of Atlanta

AA - Coosa C.C. (Rome) - Gold Creek Resort (Dawsonville)

A - Sandy Creek G.C. (Commerce) - The Lakes at Laura Walker (Waycross)

(South Carolina A and AAAA boys tournaments today and tomorrow; AAA and AA May 12-13)

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