By Louie Avery
What’s a golfer to do when he’s entering the final round of a 54-hole tournament and facing a 22-shot deficit?
Realistically, winning was not likely for 16-year-old Texas High junior Cole Kennedy, who had posted scores of 75 and 78 during the first two days of the ASGA Mountain Valley Junior Stroke Play Championship at Texarkana Country Club.
“My plan going into the final round was to just take it one shot at a time and make as many birdies as I could,” said Kennedy, who scored 10 birdies on his way to a competitive course-record 62. Kennedy was one of three players to finish the event under par at 215.
“My previous best score was 67, so this is a big deal for me. It’s going to help, I’m sure my confidence has to go up.”
It might surprise some to know Kennedy wasn’t shocked that he went so low after two disappointing rounds.
“I play golf with Sean (Romero) all the time, and we’re very competitive,” Kennedy said. “Sean had two great rounds coming into the final round, and I absolutely knew I could shoot the same type of scores.”
That fact became evident early Thursday after Kennedy buried short birdie putts at the second and third holes. His putter was just beginning to warm up as he converted birdies at 5, 7, 8 and 9 to shoot a 6-under 30 on the front nine.
The course record was in sight after birdies at 12 and 13. He tapped in from 18 inches for birdie at 15 to tie the record previously held by professional Brandel Chamblee. Near misses followed at 16 and 17, but with arms raised he celebrated a new record on the 18th green after sinking a slippery 18-footer for his final birdie.
Celebrating with Kennedy was 19-year-old Jade Scott, an all-conference selection in Conference USA this spring at Rice, who volunteered to be Kennedy’s caddy.
Scott, an all-stater during his schoolboy years at Daingerfield, is a member at TCC, and practices several times each week with Kennedy.
“I was just walking him and keeping him relaxed,” Scott said. “I tried to keep him from thinking about what was going on, and for the most part we didn’t even talk about golf until late in the round.”
Kennedy said his good friend deserved more credit then that.
“The biggest point in the round for me came at No. 6 where I hit left of the green,” he said. “Jade told me to hit a shot that I would have never dreamed about. I was on a down slope and ready to hit my sand wedge, but he told me to hit my 52 (wedge). I ended up making a 10-footer to save par. He made me think around the course.”
Could it have been better?
“Oh yes, I honestly thought I had made a birdie putt at 16,” Kennedy said. “I had a downhill 15-footer for birdie at 17 and left it just short. But seriously, I couldn’t be happier.”