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Comets golfers open state play today

Halifax County High School senior golfers Cody Spencer and Dillon Puryear were ecstatic to qualify for and compete in last year’s Group AAA State Golf Tournament. The pair will tee it up in state competition for the second year in a row when the opening round of this year’s Group AAA State Golf Tournament begins this morning at Laurel Hills Country Club in Lorton.

Both golfers are more determined this time around and are hoping to finish in the upper tier of the final standings.

“I’m going up there and I’m going to try to enjoy myself and play well,” said Spencer, who was the runner-up in last week’s Northwest Region Golf Tournament at Westlake Golf & Country Club in Hardy.

“I was feeling the pressure a little more last year, probably because it was my first time. I’m a little more relaxed. I kind of know what to do as far as how to play and get around the course.”

Puryear says that for him, this year is a lot different than last year.

“I’m going in a lot more relaxed,” he pointed out.

“You know what’s there. You know what you’ve got to do. You know more about what to expect and you feel a lot more relaxed. Hopefully I can go out and shoot two good rounds.”

Comets Head Coach David Graham said both golfers have had this year’s state tournament on their mind since last year’s state tournament.

“When they were coming back from the state tournament last year, they said that is the place to be,” Graham said.

“They looked at me and said we’re going to go back again. They worked hard all summer and here they are going back. That was their goal. They’re a little disappointed that their teammates are not going because it’s a team effort. But, it’s a nice accomplishment for them.”

Last year Spencer finished 25th and Puryear finished 55th. Both players have set loftier goals for this week’s tournament.

“I’d like to finish in the top 15,” Spencer remarked.

“I’m going for a top-ten finish, but I’d settle for a top 15 finish.”

“I’d be really happy with a top-25 finish,” added Puryear.

“That is what I set my goal for.”

Both Comets golfers have a good deal of confidence and momentum going into today’s Group AAA State Tournament as they are playing the best golf they have played all season.

“I got off to a bad start, but it all came together at the end,” Spencer said.

“I think the turning point was the first district match in Roanoke. I shot a 76 and had a good round. After that, we played again at Roanoke the following week and I shot 74. Then I had a round of 73 in the district tournament and a round of 72 in the Northwest Region Tournament. It’s gotten better every week.”

Puryear said the difference for him over the past few weeks is that he is hitting the ball better than he was early in the season.

“I’m striking the ball a lot better,” Puryear pointed out.

“I’ve made a lot less mental mistakes on the course. I’m just trying to play my game instead of forcing things.

“I learned a lot from the high scores I shot this year,” continued Puryear.

“I worked hard in practice before the Northwest Region Tournament, and I’ve been striking the ball a lot better and have been able to score better.”

The state tournament is comprised of two 18-hole rounds, as opposed to the single-round district and regional tournaments. Both Spencer and Puryear like the two-round format.

“I think two rounds makes it better,” Spencer said.

“If you don’t play as well as you should the first day you can come back the second day and try to make up for it.”

Puryear agreed.

“You learn a lot of things the first day that can help you the second day,” he pointed out.

“You can make up a lot of ground the second day. I think it’s easier than a one-day tournament. You can learn from your mistakes the first day and that can help you second day.”