South Aiken may not be the strongest team at the South Carolina Class AAAA golf tournament, but it enters today's first round with just as much momentum as any in the state.
Thoroughbreds coach Donnie Holland said Dorman and West Florence are favorites when the 12 teams tee off at the Furman University Golf Club this morning in Greenville. However, South Aiken is fresh off its Region 3-AAAA championship, won in a sudden-death playoff with Irmo.
Junior Matt Hendrix is the nucleus of this year's squad and has put together some of his best rounds at the end of the season. He was second to Irmo's Scott Feaster at the region match, firing a 141 to Feaster's 139.
The Thoroughbreds No. 1 player shot 74 May 1 at the Southern Cross Golf Tournament after being medalist at the Joe Wyatt Memorial Tournament with a 172 April 25. Senior Ryan Miles shot a 152 at the region match, while junior David Jewel added a 149.
Freshman Alex Hamilton came through with an eagle in the playoff to wrap up the match for the Thoroughbreds. Hendrix said it will take a similar performance for South Aiken to win its first AAAA state team title.
"We're playing great right now," Hendrix said. "We needed a tournament in which we all played good. We're going to need a total team effort."
Holland said momentum gained at the region match could play an important role in South Aiken's chances.
"I feel we're peaking at the right time," Holland said. "Our best round of the year was at the region meet. Hopefully we can continue to play the way we did there."
Although just a junior, Hendrix is a veteran of the state tournament. As a freshmen, he went with the team to Furman. Then as a sophomore he competed as an individual and finished second to Easley's Kyle Thompson. Thompson is now at the University of South Carolina.
"A big thing for us is if we can get four scores under 80," Hendrix said. "If we do that we'll be in contention."