By STEVE WILLIAMS
Burlington Williams has won seven North Carolina high school championships in its proud golf history and there have been a lot of close calls along the way.
The Bulldogs had to settle for second this year at Foxfire Golf and Country Club as there was no stopping a veteran, loaded Gastonia Forestview team from claiming its second straight state 3-A title.
The Bulldogs shot a second-round 295 but that paled in comparison to Forestview’s 285 as the Jaguars pushed their opening day cushion of four shots over Charlotte Catholic out to 22. Williams, tied for fourth after a first-day 309, surpassed Catholic and Belmont South Point but there was no catching Forestview.
“They’ve got so much depth from 1-to-6,” Williams veteran coach Tommy Cole said. “They’re very, very good. We played well – 295, that’s a great score.”
Williams last won the state title in 2011 with Forestview finishing third. The relatively new Gastonia school has nine top-four finishes in establishing an amazing record since it opened in 1998.
This year’s team had four seniors, including Auburn-bound Will Long. He closed his career with a 66 to claim the individual championship by one stroke over South Point junior Nick Stafford. Long had opened with 74 and was six shots off the pace.
The Jaguars also got a fifth-place finish from Will Blalock, a junior N.C. State commitment, and an eighth-place effort from freshman Drew Jurs.
Forestview’s 282 total was the 11th best in state history for a 36-hole event.
Burlington Williams’ 2011 team owns one of the 10 best with its 579.
William Register, who was a freshman standout on that state title team, ended three shots off the pace with 75-68 and in a tie for fifth. He now has three consecutive top-10 state tourney finishes.
Travis Bolick, the Bulldogs’ lone senior, was seventh with 76-70.
Juniors Jacob Haithcock (78-78) and Davis Hawks (80-79) also figured into the total.
Register, a lefty who won both the Mid-State 3-A Conference and Mideast Regional honors this spring, lamented his opening round putting problems and a double bogey that began his second round.
“It was frustrating because I couldn’t get a putt to fall,” he said of the first round.
But he figured out how to make some birdies on day two.
“I started hitting my wedges really close,” he said. “The longest putt I made for birdie was 6 feet.”
He had seven birdies on the day, including five in his last 11 holes.
Bolick took the opposite route to his 70. He played the first nine in 3-under, including birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 (his eighth and ninth holes) but couldn’t buy one coming in. Eight straight pars were followed by a closing bogey.
“After shooting 33 on the front, I was thinking I could give it a run,” Bolick said. “But I couldn’t get anything to happen — just a bunch of pars.”
The area’s top individual finisher was sophomore Davis Richards of South Rowan.
In the tournament as an individual qualifier, he fired 73-69 to tie for third.
“He had plenty of opportunities,” said South coach Josh Vinson. “He hit almost every fairway and most of the greens. He just needed to make one or two more.”
Richards said he stuck to a simple game plan during his first state tournament experience.
“I didn’t hit driver either day,” he said. “All I hit was 3-iron off the tees.”