You never forget your first and, well, if the old saying is true, a freshman at Savannah Country Day School won’t ever forget the 20 holes of golf he played on August 6 at the Savannah Golf Club.
Charles Morris III, 14, won the SGC Junior Club Championship on the second playoff hole over Benedictine’s Colby Brennan. Both Morris and Brennan shot 4-over 76 through 18 holes on a difficult 6,300+ yard track and they made it into the playoff by edging other Benedictine golfers Colin Halligan (77), Bear Dollander (77) and fifth-place finisher Jack Weeks (78).
Sean Halligan (88) finished in sixth, Jack Ganem (88) seventh and Whit Watson was officially a DQ because of a rule violation upon turning in his scorecard, although his would-be score wasn’t good enough to best the top-three.
It was the freshman’s first solo first place win, Morris confirmed during a phone call with Connect Savannah on Thursday, August 10. He has never played in a high school event because he just graduated from middle school. His win sent notice to the area’s best high school sticks.
“It was my first solo tournament win, but I haven't really been doing many (tournaments),” he said. “I've probably done … I’ve probably played only like two or maybe three (tournaments) total so far.”
Morris was the youngest player in the eight-man (Blue Tee) flight. The other seven golfers go to Benedictine, a team which bested SCDS in a few different tournaments last spring, including the city championships in April when BC (293) took first place ahead of the second place Hornets (302).
Most of the Cadets have plenty of experience in junior golf events.
Dollander, a 15-year-old freshman for BC, has won three times on the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour this year and is in second place in the season-long standings (Boys 14-15) for that tour. He, along with Colin and Sean Halligan, played in the SJGT Blake Hadden Memorial Junior Tournament on August 12-13 in North Augusta, South Carolina. Dollander finished in second place in the Boys 14-15 division there while Colin Halligan finished ninth in the Boys 15-16 flight.
Weeks, a freshman at BC like Dollander, won the Boys 13-14 flight at a U.S. Kids Golf Charleston Local Tour event played at Briars Creek on Johns Island, South Carolina on August 9.
All of that experience is relatively new to Morris. He tied for second after shooting 2-over 38 in the SPAL Middle School Championships on April 20 at Southbridge Golf Club and he has shared first place in other events, but never had he won on his own before now.
It might have played a part in his getting off to a slow start on the front-nine at the SGC Junior Club Championship. The rest of the field, he figured, would be way ahead of him by the time he made the turn to the back-nine. While playing alongside Brennan, he struggled to gain any momentum getting to difficult pin placements. Birdies were tough to come by. Well, maybe they were impossible to come by.
“I had zero birdies the whole round. Probably for the first seven holes or so … probably the worst I could have played,” he said before going through his round in summary. I had a double-bogey on number five, a bogey on two and a bogey on number 17. The rest were pars.”
By the time he and Brennan reached the par-4 16th hole at SGC, Morris trailed by three strokes and Brennan had momentum after a brilliant par save coming from off of the green on No. 15 one hole prior.
“But then on 16,” Morris recalled. “He just fell apart.”
Brennan took a triple-bogey on No. 16 while Morris took a par. All of the sudden, they were tied at the top with two to play. They each took bogey on 17 and a par on 18. A draw on the first playoff hole (No. 1) set up the second playoff hole where Morris watched Brennan hook a ball out of bounds before he won with ease on a tap-in bogey putt.
So, was the experience fun for Morris? It had to be, right?
“It's fun after,” he said. “It's not particularly fun like in the playoff or coming down 18. But then the playoff holes are just kind of like something else. You gotta’ get really serious on those and I didn’t want anything to throw me off.”