AIKEN - The bump in the road that South Aiken High's golf team hit has been smoothed out.
The two-time defending Class AAAA state champions, embarrassed by an eighthplace finish in a tournament last week, have returned to form.
The Thoroughbreds, inspired by some harsh words from coach Donnie Holland earlier in the week, completed a wire-to-wire victory Saturday in the 28th annual Southern Cross Invitational high school tournament.
South Aiken opened with a 1-under-par 212 Friday, then added a 213 Saturday to finish at 1-under-par 425. The team won the 24-team event, played at Palmetto Golf Club, by eight shots over Dutch Fork High of Irmo, S.C.
Holland addressed the team before practice on Wednesday.
"I felt like we needed to talk about some things," Holland said. "I told them they weren't playing up to their potential individually."
Holland also told the team it was playing scared and that its tentative approach on the course was costing the Thoroughbreds.
"He's not a golfer, so I thought his comment was pretty awesome," said South Aiken's Kevin Kisner, who won medalist honors Saturday.
"Having four of five players back from last year's team, the pressure's been on them," Holland said. "Everybody expects them to win every time. Sometimes that can overwhelm you a little bit."
Kisner shot 69-68 for a 5-under-par 137 total to win his fourth medalist title of the season and third in a row. He beat Zack Siefert (69-71) of Hillcrest High by three shots.
Kisner, a University of Georgia signee, made sure he had a cushion in the individual race going to the final hole on Saturday. In 2001, he was tied for the lead going to No. 18, but made a bogey and lost by a shot to teammate Alex Hamilton. This time, he birdied No. 18, making a three-inch putt.
Aiken Palmetto Golf Club 6,380 yards, par 71 Final results
425-South Aiken (212-213). 433-Dutch Fork (214-219). 438-Hillcrest (217-221). 440-North Augusta High (219-221). 441-T.L. Hanna (219-222). 444-Greenwood (229-215). 452-Easley (225-227). 453-Augusta Prep (227-226). 455-Ridge View (227-228), Hilton Head (225-230). 456-Irmo (228-228), Gaffney (223-233). 459-Bolling Springs (231-228). 460-Spartanburg (227-233). 472-Dorman (236-236). 473-Christ Church Episcopal (244-229). 474-Lakeside (233-241). 477-Emerald (233-244). 478-Wade Hampton (238-240). 481-Orangeburg Prep (232-249). 484-Travelers Rest (235-249). 489-Strom Thurmond (245-244). 498-J.L. Mann (248-250). 506-Aiken High (249-257).
Top 10, Ties
137-Kevin Kisner, South Aiken (69-68). 140-Zack Siefert, Hillcrest (69-71). 141-Phillip Mollica (69-72). 142-Vince Hatfield, Greenwood (69-73), Wesley Carter, North Augusta (71-71), Nick Hughey, Gaffney (69-73). 143-Matt Bayliff, Easley (72-72), Adam Dox, Dutch Fork (71-72), Dustin Johnson, Dutch Fork (69-74). 144-Kellen Altman, Carolina Forest (73-71).
Other Scores of Interest
145-Dane Burkhart, South Aiken (72-73). 146-Patrick Cunning, South Aiken (71-75). 149-Casey Thompson, North Augusta (76-73), Greg Benjamin, North Augusta (72-77), Joel McAlhaney, South Aiken (77-72). 151-Mason McKnight, Augusta Prep (76-75). 153-Josh Jackson, Strom Thurmond (81-72), Sam Nicholson, Augusta Prep (77-76). 155-Kenan Young, Augusta Prep (80-75), Thomas Brown, Barnwell (83-72). 156-Paul Trotter, Augusta Prep (74-82). 157-Ryan Blackburn, Lakeside (75-82). 159-Brent Lake, Lakeside (80-79). 160-Andrew Mize, Lakeside (78-82). 164-Jonathan Bowden, Aiken (80-84), Matt Howard, Lakeside (84-80). 166-Brad Eskierka, North Augusta (77-89). 167-Wes Herlong, Strom Thurmond (81-86). 169-Will Miller, Strom Thurmond (83-86). 171-James Costigan, Aiken (85-86), Phillip Zunino, Aiken (84-87). 176-Chris Burke, Strom Thurmond (87-89), David Carlisle, Aiken (89-87).