Taylor Coalson has all the shots that have made him one of the state’s top junior golfers. His easy, calm demeanor also includes patience as a virtue.
The North Surry High School senior withstood a two-hour rain delay in the first round of the state 2-A golf tournament to grab a share of the lead. He then had to wait around more than an hour after finishing his second round for his closest pursuers to finish.
When Salisbury’s Alex Nianouris, playing in the final group, arrived after matching Coalson’s 70-70 rounds shot-for-shot, Coalson had to regroup again for a sudden-death playoff.
Without much warm-up, Coalson ripped drives down the middle on Longleaf Country Club’s 10th and 18th fairways and made two routine par-4s to capture his second consecutive high school championship.
“That was pretty nerve-racking,” Coalson said of the wait on day two.
Part of that time was spent lamenting a 3-putt bogey on his final hole.
“That was my only three-putt of the tournament,” he said.
Despite that fact, Coalson wasn’t totally happy with his putting.
“I putted good, but I didn’t make any putts,” he said. “I hit a lot of greens and had a lot of two-putts for pars.”
The decisive stroke of the tournament didn’t involve the flat stick at all. He holed out an 80-yard shot with a 60-degree wedge on his eighth hole of the day.
“That was pretty key because I had only one birdie and that was on my first hole,” he said.
In the playoff, Coalson and Nianouris made routine pars on No. 10. On the 18th, which runs parallel to the 10th, Nianouris pushed his drive into the rough but recovered nicely with a shot just off the left of the green. Coalson, as was his usual on this day, was fairway and green, leaving himself about 15 feet after a 9-iron from 160 yards. Nianouris left his birdie bid from the fringe some 10 feet short going up the slope and couldn’t connect with the par-saver, giving Coalson the title.
There’s a history and a future for both players. A year ago, Nianouris beat Coalson in a playoff for the Midwest region medal. And this fall, they’ll be rivals again in the Southern Conference – Coalson at UNC Greensboro and Nianouris at Davidson.
Coalson, a lefty who plays out of Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy, won last year’s 2-A medal with the same 140 score, although it was 69-71 on the breakdown and there was no playoff needed. They’ll go down as two of the highlighted junior titles on his victory list that also includes the Joe Cheves Invitational, a major regional event, last fall.
“I’m ready to go to UNCG,” he said. “I’m pretty pumped up about it. I’m playing pretty good so maybe I can put up some good scores for the Spartans.”