2013-06-13 / News

End of era for North Kingstown High golf team

By Margo Sullivan

North Kingstown High’s golf team has wrapped up another outstanding season with a solid fourth-place finish in the state tournament.

This season marks the end of an era because the program is losing four seniors – Owen Heath, Adam Southworth, Justin Pratt and Alex Burke – who graduated from high school last week. The foursome had kept the Skippers in title contention since their sophomore year when they came in second at the states and almost took the trophy back to appropriately named Fairway Drive.

Owen, Adam and Alex are islanders. More Jamestowners are coming up the ranks, Owen said, although he’s not sure if anyone from town will be on the 2014 squad. He does anticipate North Kingstown’s golf team will still be a factor in the state tournament, though. He says the returning players will keep improving.

At the 2013 state tournament, the Skippers shot 320 and 334 over the two-day competition. The champs, Barrington, fared better with scores of 300 and 306. The other top teams were runner-up Bishop Hendricken (629) and Chariho (633).

Chariho (12-2) finished in second place in the Division I South league play, right behind the Skippers. The Chargers were the only top team the Skippers faced during the regular season, and they were 1-1 in head-to-head play. Chariho handed the Skippers their only defeat during the regular season in a match at Chariho on April 24. Alex and Adam both broke 40 in the loss, each shooting 39.

The Skippers avenged the loss at the rematch on the Jamestown links May 5. North Kingstown shot 154, its lowest score of the regular season. Of the 12 players (six on each team), Owen posted the low score with an even-par 36. Adam shot a 37 and Justin posted a 38.

The four seniors led the squad into the postseason again this year after North Kingstown ended the regular season 12-1. They captured another Division-I South title with the best record in the league.

“We lost once and tied once,” Owen said, referring to a contest against Coventry that ended with the two squads knotted up at 157 at the par-35 Coventry Pines Country Club. Adam shot the day’s low score with a two-over 37.

Adam was named to the All- State Second Team in 2012. The 2013 selections have not yet been announced.

The Skippers won the division title in three of the last four years. This is the second consecutive year the team finished the states in fourth place.

“It wasn’t really our tournament,” said Owen. He turned in the Skippers’ best score – a twoday score of 158 after shooting 78 and 80 – but said the team’s performance at the states failed to match the effort in its last tournament of the regular season.

He didn’t fault the course at the Cranston Country Club, though.

“It was well conditioned,” he said.

The highlight of the course is the short par 3 with an “island green,” he said. The hole is surrounded by water, and quite a few balls wind up in the drink. It’s fun, he said, but he and the other North Kingstown players don’t play in Cranston often and don’t really know the course.

The Skippers liked the course at Shelter Harbor the best, he said, which is where they played their last tournament of the regular season. It was a grand day in Charlestown for the Skippers’ golf team.

“Every one of our top four played solid,” Owen said.

The Skippers defeated Narragansett by 23 strokes and Westerly by 13. Owen and Justin led the Skippers by each shooting 39.

Owen said the key to his improved scores is that he continues to work on his short game.

“I got a little better,” he said, following a 2012 season where his putter seemingly deserted him. “It’s all about confidence. If you have that, it’ll work.”

He said his best high school golf memory was the title run the Skippers made in his sophomore year. They had hoped last year to finish what they started in 2011 and win the states, but Barrington had other plans.

As for this year, it was hard to assess where the Skippers measured up against the top teams, he said. Ultimately, Barrington defended its title and won the championship for the second straight year, but during the regular season, the Skippers never faced the Eagles.

Owen was en route this week to Philadelphia to watch the golf professionals compete in the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

Adam (two-day score of 160 at states) and Alex (172) could not be reached for comment about their future plans.

Owen, who is bound for Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., expects to continue playing varsity sports. Mount Saint Mary does not offer athletic scholarships. The college does belong to the NCAA and is a Division III school, he said. The Mountaineers’ 2012-13 men’s basketball schedule included games against Georgetown and Indiana.

He plans to go out for either golf or basketball, but has not decided yet which sport he will pursue.

“I want to try to play,” he said.

Owen was named to the All- State Second Team in basketball and was the only Skipper selected. The Skippers’ hoops team was the last undefeated squad in Division I play. It dominated the competition during the regular season and almost made good on its quest for the state title. Ultimately, North Kingstown lost the state championship game in the final seconds to Classical.

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