Ridge's Horsfield, Tenoroc's Connors Ready for 1st State Tournament
Mon. October 31, 2011 at 2:32 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Ridge Community's Sam Horsfield, left, and Tenoroc's Kayla Connors will play in the 2A boys and 1A girls state tournaments respectively on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Photo by RICK RUNION | LEDGER PHOTOS)
By B.J. PITZEN | LEDGER CORRESPONDENT
LAKELAND | Ridge Community's Sam Horsfield and Tenoroc's Kayla Connors aim to finish well in the 36-hole Florida High School Athletic Association Golf Finals that will be held Tuesday and Wednesday.
Horsfield will compete in the Class 2A boys tournament at the 6,783-yard, par-72 Mission Inn Resort & Club's El Campeon course, located in Howey-in-the-Hills.
Connors will play in the 1A girls tournament for the first time at the 5,530-yard, par-72 Harbor Hills Country Club in Lady Lake.
Horsfield described Mission Inn as the "Mission Impossible" last week after winning regionals. El Campeon, one of the South's oldest courses built in 1917, will give Horsfield a test to try to tame the double dogleg 550-yard, par-5 17th hole.
El Campeon plays about 328 yards longer than Stoneybrook West, the Winter Garden course that hosted the Class 2A, Region 5 qualifier last week where the Ridge freshman shot 69 to win medalist honors by one shot. Horsfield also won the 2A-8 district tournament two weeks ago.
El Campeon provides the English-born Horsfield with the longest layout of his high school career thus far.
"I personally look forward to the challenge presented by a good golf course," Horsfield said. "There are a lot of good junior players, and I'm just glad to be one of them."
Horsfield holds an 18-hole stroke average of 72.5, which is lowest in Polk County boys' golf.
"I'm enjoying everything I experience with golf," he said. "When I am old enough to attempt to qualify for the PGA Tour or next year on the European Tour, I trust that if my talent is sufficient, then everything else will take care of itself."
Ridge coach Bob McKnight said Horsefield is more than just a good player.
"Sam also has the other traits I value in my golfers even more — character, commitment and a great attitude," McKnight said.
Horsfield tees off No. 1 at El Campeon Tuesday at 9 a.m. with Anthony Myers of Cape Coral Ida Baker and Joshua Lee of Orange Park Fleming Island.
Connors advanced to the state tournament after shooting 9-over-par 81 at regionals at Bardmoor Golf & Country Club in Largo.
The Tenoroc junior also won the 1A-13 district tournament with a personal-best 18-hole score of 75 at River Greens Golf Course and hopes to shoot both rounds at state in the 70s.
Connors, who has an 18-hole stroke average of 78 this season, hopes to roll the ball well on the fast greens at Harbor Hills. She also looks to rely on her chipping game to perform.
"My short game is the best part," Connors said.
The soft-spoken Titan, who first started playing golf with her father in her backyard when she was 6, keeps an even keel and shows very little, if any, negative emotion on the course. Last week at the regional tournament, Connors made a triple bogey on her back nine but bounced back as though nothing ever happened.
"The more tournaments you play in the more you get used to doing that (bouncing back) and not getting so nervous," Connors said. "I'm just going to do my best and have fun (at states)."
Connors will begin off No. 1 at Harbor Hills at 9:18 a.m. with Chloe Horton of Miami Ransom Everglades and Micah Adams of Bushnell South Sumter.
"I enjoy playing with almost anybody," Connors said.