Evans, GW poised to make run at golf title
When George Washington takes the course today in Lewisburg for the Class AAA Region 3 golf tournament, senior Will Evans will be on the hunt to get in the hunt for an individual state championship.
Evans shot a 154 and earned all-state honors at last year's tournament and enters 2012's postseason playing some of the best golf in the state.
"I didn't play my best game [at last year's state tournament], but I knew if I played well I would have a shot," Evans said. "This year I've made so many improvements. My putting and ball striking have gotten better and I've improved a lot."
GW coach B.J. Calabrese said he thinks his star senior has the ability to compete for an individual title this season.
"I really feel that realistically he's one of the top three players in the state," Calabrese said. "He played real well at the state tournament last year and he's certainly capable of [winning it]. He can put back-to-back days together and put himself in a position to win."
Evans, the son of Berry Hills club pro Barry Evans, played well through the spring and summer. He won the Top Flite Junior Tour event at Berry Hills during the summer and has been the top player for the Patriots all season. Calabrese said maintaining a high level of play from early in the calendar year through now is often difficult for young golfers, but Evans has handled it extremely well.
"You start playing in April and it's very difficult to maintain that level of consistency during that period of time. He's having an excellent senior season," Calabrese said. "He's averaging 35.6 [stokes] per nine holes and has been the medalist at all the major tournaments we played in addition to our regular season matches."
Calabrese praised Evans for more than just his individual play. The Patriots have a relatively young roster, and the GW coach said Evans has made it a point to help bring the underclassmen up to speed.
"One of the things that's really pleased me the most is not necessarily how he's played, but the leadership he's shown," Calabrese said. "Four of my top eight players are freshmen and sophomores, and Will has been so willing to take on that leadership role and help those young kids progress and learn about course management. He's really stepped up this year. He leads by example on the course, but the things he's done off the course with the younger kids have been amazing."
Evans said he has taken the time to play with the younger players to help them better understand a game that can take a lifetime to master.
"Our team is really deep and we have a lot of talent and good players," Evans said. "With some of them being young, they don't fully understand how to play golf sometimes."
GW's hopes rest higher than just an individual title for its top player - the Patriots want to make a run at the Class AAA team title. A year ago they finished tied for third place and Calabrese said his team has the depth to compete with the other tops teams from around West Virginia.
"We know that we can play with Wheeling Park, University and Winfield, but doing it for two days is the challenge," he said. "The great thing about this team is our depth. I've got eight kids averaging under 42."
Chris Webster, Austin Florence and sophomore Drew Call all average under 40 strokes, and along with Evans are the players Calabrese said would be prominently involved in GW's postseason run.
"Those four are all very capable players," he said. "Chris, Austin and Drew have had a very good year. Will leads us, but those other guys have played well and continue to improve. That gives us a legitimate shot. When you get to the state tournament you've got to have three players that are going to be in the 70s to have a shot at the team title, and I really feel that we're capable of doing that."
Evans said he thinks he and his teammates have the talent and ability to hoist the state championship trophy early in October in Wheeling.
"It would mean a lot," he said. "I think we have a really good shot if we put some scores together. We're going to have to play solid, but we're definitely capable."
Regional tournaments in all classes take place today - with Class AA Region 1, which takes place Tuesday, being the lone exception - sending squads from the Kanawha Valley in different directions around the Mountain State.
Capital, Riverside and South Charleston join George Washington at the Class AAA Region 3 tournament at the Lewisburg Elks County Club. Joining the trio of Kanawha County teams will be Greenbrier East, Oak Hill, Ripley, Shady Spring and Woodrow Wilson.
Hurricane, Nitro, St. Albans and Winfield join Cabell Midland, Huntington, Lincoln County, Logan, Point Pleasant and Spring Valley at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course for the Class AAA Region 4 tournament. Defending state champion Wheeling Park plays in Region 1 at Preston County Club.
In Class AA, the Kanawha Valley teams are confined to Region 4 where Poca, Herbert Hoover and Sissonville will compete with Chapmanville, Clay County, Mingo Central, Nicholas County, Scott, Tolsia and Wayne at Big Bend Golf Course.
Defending Class A champion Charleston Catholic is also at Big Bend for the small school Region 4 tournament along with Buffalo, Gilmer County, Parkersburg Catholic, St. Joseph's Central, Wahama, Williamstown and Wirt County.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com.