Eagles' quartet hopes to soar


Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.

Chandler Whitefield vaguely remembers her introduction to golf, but she knows she was only 4 when she picked up a club for the first time.

“I think it might have been bigger than me,” Whitefield said.

A year later, Whitefield introduced a friend, Lauren Gros, to the sport. Before long, two more of her close pals from elementary school — Taylor Tomlinson and Caroline Holloway — also were playing.

Today, the four are Oak Hall ninth-graders.

And this morning at Ocala Golf Club, the quartet — along with sophomore Bridget Joyner — will tee off for the Eagles in the Class 1A girls state tournament.

“Our goal is to be top five,” Gros said.

That seems possible, if not likely.

A week ago, Gros won the regional tournament with an 18-hole total of 71 at Mark Bostick Golf Course. In the same event, Tomlinson, who one week earlier was district champion, shot 73. Whitefield and Holloway had rounds of 91 and 92, respectively, while Joyner, a solid No. 5, finished with a 111. Oak Hall claimed the region's team title with a 327 total, nine shots better than Jacksonville Bolles.

Beyond talent, this group has state experience. With the same players, the Eagles also qualified for this tournament in 2008 and 2009.

In other words, nerves aren't likely to be a factor.

The group's first trip to state “was pretty intimidating,” Tomlinson said. “But we still tried our best and gave it a good shot.”

In 2008, the Eagles placed 11th after rounds of 368-353 (for a 721 total) as only Gros broke 80. A year later, Oak Hall improved its two-day total by 41 strokes.

“We've all improved a lot since middle school,” Gros said.

While top five might be the mission this week, the Eagles truly believe bigger things will happen down the road. After all, they still have plenty of high school left.

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