Greenbrier’s States Fort was the top local finisher at last week’s Press Thornton Future Masters in Dothan, Ala. The event is one of the most prestigious junior golf tournaments in the country and has been around for 65 years.
Past winners include Augusta native Charles Howell, Masters champion Trevor Immleman, and major champions Stewart Cink and Shaun Micheel. There were 240 participants in the 15- to 18-year-old division alone. The list of participants included a quartet of players from Columbia County. Fort and his Greenbrier teammate Tyler Barker, who helped lead the Pack to the Class AAAAA state title this spring, were among that group of four. Also in the field this year was Class AAAAA state individual champion Hunter Dunagan of Lakeside. Dunagan fired an 8-under 64 in May at Bartram Trail to run away with the individual title. Not to be outdone was Augusta Prep standout Salil Ghamande. Ghamande was named GISA All-State after leading the Cavaliers to the AAA GISA State Title. At the State Championships, Ghamande was the low scorer for Augusta Prep with a +2 74, which gave him a second place finish in the individual race.
Sixteen-year-old Tanner Owens of Milton, Tenn., defeated Brooks Rabren of Dozier, Ala., in a playoff to claim the title. Both players carded identical rounds of 66-69-69 (204).
Here is how our locals fared at the event:
T22: States Fort (Greenbrier) 75-66-72 (213)
T42: Hunter Dunagan (Lakeside) 70-72-74 (216)
T62: Tyler Barker (Greenbrier) 73-72-75 (220)
T67: Salil Ghamande (Augusta Prep) 71-72-78 (221)
Not bad when you consider this was a field of 240 of the top junior players in the country.
Lions’ Dingle commits to Alabama A&M
Another player who led his team to a state championship made news recently. For this story we shift from golf to basketball. Augusta Christian product Jordan Dingle has made his college decision. Dingle had a special senior campaign for the Lions after transferring in from South Aiken.
The 6-2 point guard led ACS to the SCISA state title and was named The Augusta Chronicle Private School Player of the Year. He also was Co-Player of the Year in Columbia County. Dingle was the steady floor general for the Lions all year and paced the team in scoring at 15 points per game.
He also dished out more than four assists per contest. Dingle’s strong performance afforded him several college opportunities. In the end, he chose to head to Huntsville, Ala., having committed to play at Alabama A&M. Alabama A&M is coming off a 14-16 season, finishing 10-8 in the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference). Dingle is part of a strong recruiting class that includes a pair of big JUCO transfers in seven-footer Isaiah Cotton and 6-8 power forward Quinterian McConico. More good news for Dingle is that he should have a chance to play big minutes right away. He is currently the only scholarship point guard on A&M’s roster for 2014-15.
The Bulldogs have a pair of sophomore walk-ons returning at the position. Matthew Cotton redshirted a year ago. Rakiya Battle saw action in 18 games last season but averaged only six minutes per game and only 1.6 points per contest. Also, one of Dingle’s major assets is his size. At 6-2, 190 pounds, he will have a distinct size advantage over Cotton and Battle, who both stand 5-10. One of those three will have to fill the void left by graduating senior Jeremy Crutcher. Crutcher led the Bulldogs in minutes (32.2 per game), points (12.2 per game), assists (4.0 per game) and steals (1.2 per game).