AIKEN - The Southern Cross golf tournament's unusual format played right into the hands of Easley High, which roared to a one-sided victory Saturday at Palmetto Golf Club.
At most high school golf tournaments, teams play five men and count the low four scores in a round. The Southern Cross, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, has always played four players and counted the low three scores.
That format favors a team that is strong at the top, such as Easley, as opposed to one that is deep in talent.
"I felt pretty good about our chances, especially only counting three scores," said Easley freshman David Dannelly, who paced the Green Wave. "We usually have three solid scores and have to count a 77 or 78."
On Saturday, Easley counted a 72, 73 and a 74. Dannelly had 73, junior Jonathan Bowden had 73, and sophomore Daniel Bowden and junior Michael Lawrence had 74s.
That added up to 6-over-par 219 and a 7-shot victory over defending champion T.L. Hanna, which had the day's low round, a 217. Easley opened with 220 and finished at 13-over 439.
Easley coach David Giffin said he doesn't have a star on his team, but the 14-year-old Dannelly might be about to fill that role.
"Being a freshman, he's really come on lately," Giffin said of Dannelly, who was second recently in the Furman Invitational, a men's amateur event in Greenville, S.C.
Two double bogeys on the back nine (Nos. 12 and 16) Saturday cost Dannelly a shot at winning the medalist title. He finished fourth, three shots behind Cheraw's Elmore Baker, who was playing as an individual. Baker had 70-69-139; Dannelly shot 70-72-142.
South Aiken, which had been tied for the lead after 18 holes with Easley, faded with 233 and finished third. Patrick Cunning led the Thoroughbreds with 73 and finished fifth individually.
South Aiken had led last week's Joe Wyatt Memorial at Aiken's Houndslake Country Club, but was also passed by Easley, which won that tournament too. South Aiken finished fifth in the Wyatt.
"We started off pretty bad, but it could have been worse," South Aiken coach Jeremy West said of Saturday's play. "Our guys didn't quit and they managed to salvage something out of something that could have been a real bad today."
South Aiken plays in its Region 4-AAAA tournament Wednesday in Lexington, S.C.
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.