The top eight junior players from the Palmetto State are entered this year, including the past two individual champions: Pelion’s Cody Proveaux and Chapin’s William Starke.
Starke and Chapin hope to defend their individual and team titles from 2011 when play begins today in the 36-hole event, but they will face stiff competition.
North Augusta’s Matt NeSmith is coming off a tie for second in last weekend’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, and Proveaux held the first-round lead at Sage Valley before winding up ninth.
“It’s one of those tournaments you’ve got to keep the ball in play,” Proveaux said of the Southern Cross. “Palmetto’s a tight course, and it’s a tough course at times. I just want to go out there and play my best.”
Proveaux said he and his Pelion teammates are on a hot streak.
“We’re doing good,” he said. “We started 0-3 and then we won 13 (matches) in a row and we’re doing really good right now.”
Palmetto Golf Club is the host course, and even though it is short by modern standards at well under 7,000 yards, organizers expect it to be a challenge for the players.
“The golf course is in fantastic shape. I think it will be a real good test for the players,” said Joe Spencer, publicity chairman for the tournament. “We get so many comments from coaches that this is their favorite event to come to. We look back at winners we’ve had in past and many go on to college and some go on to the pros.”
The Southern Cross format is unique in that it counts the three best out of four scores. Most high school and college tournaments count four out of five.
Twenty-four teams, including Aiken, South Aiken and North Augusta, and seven golfers playing as individuals are scheduled to compete.