Sibling rivalry has spurred on Sabols

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Russell and Megan Sabol, of Evans, have a sibling rivalry not unlike most brothers and sisters. Throw golf into the mix, however, and the competitive spirit in the two becomes much more apparent.

Evans' Megan Sabol, 11, and her 13-year-old brother, Russell, are headed to Pinehurst, N.C., in several weeks for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
Evans' Megan Sabol, 11, and her 13-year-old brother, Russell, are headed to Pinehurst, N.C., in several weeks for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship.

Whether it's comparing scorecards or discussing their favorite golfers -- Russell is a Tiger Woods fan while Megan pulls for Phil Mickelson -- one always aims to outdo the other.

In the process, the Sabols have mostly outdone their competition.

Russell, 13, is a two-time Augusta Area Junior Golf Association Player of the Year in his age group. In the Georgia State Golf Association, he has played in the state sectionals since he was 9, advancing to the state finals each time. He has also earned player of the year honors on the Georgia Junior Golf Tour and registered a win on the Augusta Junior Golf Magazine tour.

The youngsters' father, Rich Sabol, said he's always been impressed by his son's athletic ability, but more so about his willingness to stick with the game of golf.

"Russell has always had excellent hand-eye coordination," said Rich, who has a 13 handicap. "Even when he played machine-pitch baseball he was an All-Star. But the problem with baseball is that it messes up your golf swing."

Megan, 11, is the reigning player of the year in the Atlanta division of U.S. Kids Golf.

She has tallied victories on the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour, the GSGA tour, AJGM tour and the AAJGA tour. She travels next week to play in the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

"Megan is a perfectionist," said Pennie Sabol, the mother of the two. "In school, if she doesn't get a hundred on a test, she'll come home and try to figure out why. It's the same with golf. She has incredible drive."

Both Megan and Russell will play in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst, N.C., in several weeks.

Megan grew up watching Russell play and realized quickly that she wanted to follow suit.

"(Megan) has sort of followed in his footsteps; watching him on the range and playing in tournaments," said Rich Sabol.

The pair occasionally exchange golf tips, and Russell has even caddied in some of Megan's biggest tournaments.

"I help her with her swing," Russell said. "I can look at it and tell if she's doing something wrong. If I see that, I tell her how to fix it."

"When he gets mad, he starts to grip his club way too tight and he messes up his swing," said Megan.

The parents give a lot of credit to The First Tee of Augusta for its role in setting their children up for success.

"It was the perfect place for them to learn the rules and the etiquette (of golf) and just develop their game from there," Pennie said.

Reach Joey Jones at (706) 823-3304 or joey.jones@augustachronicle.com.


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