A one-year break from the state championship is more than enough for Frederica Academy golf.
The Knights’ remarkable 13-year state title streak was snapped last season, but FA looks poised to begin a new one after winning the GISA Region 2-3A Tournament this past weekend in Statesboro.
Frederica Academy’s five of Jackson Byrd, Jack Roberts, Aarnav Nath, Roy Boyd and Ramie Singler shot a 291 at Forest Heights Country Club, beating out runner-up Bulloch Academy’s score of 317 by 26 strokes. Pinewood Christian rounded out the top 3 with a score of 337.
Boyd and Roberts paced the Knights early on with each making the turn at 3 under.
Boyd’s opening tee shot hit the trunk of a tree and ricocheted into the fairway, ad the senior captain quickly capitalized with a great par on No. 1. From there, Boyd was able to work his way around the front nine, giving himself plenty of birdie opportunities.
“His demeanor on the front was very relaxed and calm,” said Frederica head coach Kevin Roberts. “He was in good spirits, and he was having fun. You could easily see the joy in his face.”
Roberts, on the other hand, recorded bogeys on Nos. 2-3 to find himself up two strokes before going on a strong run over the final six holes of the frontside. The freshman standout sandwiched a pair of birdies around an even par hole leading into an eagle on No. 7. Following a par on No. 8, Jack Roberts birdied No. 9 to match Boyd for the team lead at the halfway point.
Byrd opened his round with a bomb off the tee to about 50 yards short of the green, and then he stuck his wedge to about a foot from the hole for a tap-in birdie to get him started in the right direction.
“He’s such a dynamic player,” Coach Roberts said. “His length and wedge game is a strength that allows him to go low at any point.”
But Byrd’s front nine after that point was a relative disappointment from another one of the Knights’ freshmen phenom. A missed birdie opportunity on No. 9 left Byrd at even par headed to the backside.
Nath and Shingler rounded out Frederica’s starting five, but each had some issues ironing out the consistency in their games early. Nath was five strokes over par through four holes before settling down to shoot par over the next five holes while Shingler found himself at 1 under through seven holes until a triple bogey on No. 8 and a bogey on No. 9 dropped him to 3 over at the turn.
The Knights continued to struggle on the backside of the course — Boyd had a triple bogey on No. 12, Byrd bogeyed No. 15, and Roberts had a string of bogeys as well. Frederica wasn’t in danger of losing the region, but its hopes of a school record were all but dashed.
“It’s not that I felt like we weren’t going to win because I felt very confident that we would win the region, we have a lot of talent on this team with some elite golfers,” Coach Roberts said. “These kids are searching for that one time where they all click and go low and set a new FA scoring record. I think it’s something they all want to achieve prior to Boyd graduating.”
As a group, the Knights felt they struck the ball well over the final nine holes, but they just couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities — that is, until Nath birdied a difficult par 3 No. 15 that seemed to settle the team down.
Roberts reached the green in two shots on the par 5 No. 18, and after narrowly missing his eagle putt, he tapped in a birdie to finish at 1 under. Byrd, after a day of relative struggles, shaved off three strokes over his final three holes to match his classmate for the team lead.
Both Roberts and Byrd earned All-Region honors for their performance, as did Boyd and Nath.
“Resiliency and a never quit attitude is what this team has, and it showed today,” said Coach Roberts, who was selected as the Region 2-3A Coach of the Year.
In addition to the team, Frederica Academy had Travis Cavalier, Campbell Williams, Roberts Stephens and Parker Jules compete as individuals at the region tournament.
Playing in the same pairing, Williams and Cavalier each had spurts of good golf, the former finishing at 6-over 78 while the latter recorded an 81. Stephens shot an 85.
Next, Frederica will seek to avenge its second-place finish at the state tournament from a year ago when the Knights travel to Greensboro to compete at the Harbor Club at Lake Oconee on Monday.