Tomlinson looking forward to pressure at state tourney
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 12:12 a.m.
The last three weeks of J.D. Tomlinson's final high school golf season have gone as he had planned.
The Oak Hall senior captured his first John and Ann Ives Golf Classic championship (formerly known as the Alachua County Tournament) and led the Eagles to the team title as well.
Four days later, the Florida commitment claimed his second straight District 4-1A crown, while also guiding Oak Hall to the team championship. Then at last Monday's Class 1A, Region 2 tournament at Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club, he made up for a disappointing showing last year by shooting a two-under par 69 to clinch his second regional championship.
By winning the regional event, Tomlinson earned his second trip to the FHSAA Class 1A state tournament that starts today. The 36-hole, two-day tournament held at the Country Club At Silver Springs Shores in Ocala will be Tomlinson's biggest challenge as he attempts to close out his senior year and his outstanding prep career with a state championship.
“This is just one step closer to my goal that I set in the beginning of the year,” said Tomlinson, who also reached state as an individual as a sophomore. “Just like countys was a step and districts and regionals and the end goal is to win state.”
The Sun's two-time reigning boys golfer of the year has risen to his own expectations, but has also felt the pressure to succeed from the area golf community. Tomlinson, ranked 11th in the country among high school seniors according to the American Junior Golf Association's Polo Golf Rankings, will need to continue his exceptional play down the stretch. Among the top contenders for the Class 1A individual crown include defending state champion Jesse Perkins, a junior from Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy. Other top players gunning for the title include Conor Richardson, fifth last year, and Chase Koepka, both of West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman and A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville Bolles.
“I put a ton of pressure on myself today and it is tough to play with that much pressure,” said Tomlinson after the regional tournament. “I come out here and everyone is like, ‘If you don't qualify we are going to be really disappointed.' I hear it every day.
“I love playing this game, I love going out there. It is tough playing with the pressure, but I love it.”
Tomlinson, who owns a nine-hole average of 34 this season, has already played the state tournament course and he said there are a lot of hazards, bushes and brush. He said the greens are very undulated, which will make it tough to putt. But regardless of the competition, the course conditions and the overall pressure that comes with playing at the state tournament level, he likes his chances.
“The tougher the course, the more people that are going to shoot high,” said Tomlinson, who is slated to tee off at 9:15 a.m. “If I play my game and don't make many mistakes, I should be up there. I feel pretty comfortable.
“I want to bring a state championship back to Gainesville.”
Oak Hall coach Bob Gates also thinks Tomlinson will be in the mix to become the first area boys golfer to win a state title.
“He is very capable of doing that (winning the state title), he should be one of the favorites for sure,” Gates said. “Now is the time for him to go down there and play some good golf. He