John Faulkner's philosophy on his golf game is a simple one.
"I'm not the longest driver ever," he said. "I just rely on hitting it straight."
Faulkner's straight shots and solid play March 3 at the Johnny Paulk Invitational at Jekyll Island, Ga., proved his philosophy correct. The Lakeside High School golfer didn't have a flashy game - a 72 even par for his final score. The round, however, was good enough to finish first place overall in the one-day event.
The tournament, which invites the top three high school teams from each class, also saw Lakeside finish first as a team in competition with 17 other top high school squads.
"Theoretically these were the best teams in the state," Lakeside golf coach Jay Gilstrap said. "We still had some fairly high expectations."
The highest of expectations were met when Faulkner walked away as the top medalist and the Panthers took home the team championship. Faulkner said it shouldn't be a surprise, considering that last season's state championship team had no seniors.
"We have the same team as we did last year, so we feel like we're better this year," he said. "I'd like to win the state tournament again."
The junior said he spends much of his practice time at North Augusta Country Club, a tradition that goes back to his father's golfing days before John was born.
"Most of the males in my family play golf. I've been doing it since I learned how to walk," Faulkner said. "I started out with plastic clubs in my backyard."
His game has consistently improved since then. Faulkner was the No. 1 guy on his team at Riverside Middle School. In high school, he's played on the varsity squad since his freshman year.
In last season's state championship tournament, Faulkner birdied three of the final four holes to shoot a 73.
This year, he has made a name for himself with the win at the Johnny Paulk Invitational.
"He had some mistakes early in the round, but he worked through them," Gilstrap said. "He's one of our four big juniors. I've thoroughly enjoyed coaching every one of them."
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