When Taylor Guilbeau shot 5-under on the front nine Sunday, he knew he had a solid shot at capturing the title in the fifth annual Columbia County Junior Golf Championships.
Still, he forced himself to refocus as he prepared for the back nine at Bartram Trail Golf Club.
"If you were to shoot 37 or 38, you're fine," he said. "But when you shoot 31, you're thinking, ‘Please don't mess up.' You have to keep your cool and know that you don't have to shoot another 31.
"Just play your game and don't let it get in your head."
The Greenbrier High School junior used that mind-set to fire a round of 4-under-par 68.
When the event, scheduled for Sunday and Monday, was shortened to one day because of inclement weather, Guilbeau's opening round held up for a seven-shot victory in the 15-18 Boys division.
"It's something you look forward to as a member there," said Guilbeau, a member at both Bartram Trail and Jones Creek golf clubs.
"It gets really competitive," he added. "You're playing against people you've practiced and played with. It's a chance to show them how you're doing, how you've progressed."
More than 50 junior golfers competed in the free event.
Guilbeau executed a pair of deft shots that provided unexpected scoring opportunities.
On the front nine, he chipped in for eagle after driving hole-high on the par-4 eighth hole.
Then, on the back nine, he holed a birdie putt he estimated at 80 feet. He couldn't even see the hole when he hit the putt.
Will Watson and Sam Odi tied for runner-up honors with 75, one shot ahead of Rodney Wendt and C.J. Griffin.
In the Girls 15-18 division, Elizabeth Kim ran away with the victory, thanks to a round of even-par 72.
Nelly Brunson was the runner-up with 99.
Bartram Trail head pro Robby Watson said he enjoys holding the event each year.
The key to keeping it going is sponsorship, he noted, because it allows juniors to get the full experience of a tournament.
"There's no charge for the kids," he said. "That's something we want to continue to do here at Bartram. We try to provide drinks, food and trophies for them, and a T-shirt.
"It's something we enjoy doing and want to continue to do."
Watson said the event often draws more younger players rather than teens.
"It seems like we get more of the younger kids that maybe just don't get to play tournaments very often," he said. "That's kind of what we want to do, too. We want them to have fun with it and enjoy the game of golf while learning things like golf etiquette and the rules."
Watson said that the winning scores showed just how good the area's young talent is.
States Fort and Hunter Dunagan both shot 74 to head up the 12-14 age group.
Carter Harwell had 38, while his sister, Madison, shot 44, in the 10-11 division.
Among the 9-Under players, Alex Colligan and Owen Sanders were ahead of the pack. Both went low, as Colligan won the title with 33 and Sanders shot 35 for runner-up.