McDERMOTT — The road back to state has been a year-long journey for Valley sophomore Cameron Phillips.
During Monday’s Division III Southeast District boys golf tournament at The Elks, Phillips set the bar with his six-under (66) round to claim his second-straight district title.
“I want to thank everyone at Valley High School, my friends, my family and our community for their support towards me and my golf game,” Phillips said. “It’s great to play golf events and see so many familiar faces walking each hole to watch me play. I really do appreciate all your support.”
Scioto County’s three qualifiers each had strong performances during the 18-hole championship tournament — with South Webster sophomore Owen Mault placing as runner-up with a three-over (75) round, and SW senior Riley Burnett placing tied for 13th with a 14-over round (86).
The top team score and top one individual score not on a qualifying team in the district tournament advance to the D-III State Tournament at NorthStar.
North Adams won the team championship with a 340 score, ahead of Crooksville who placed second with 346. Phillips’ six-under earned him the individual qualifying spot.
Phillips credited his father, Valley golf coach Tyson Phillips, with some advice that helped lead him to score a five-under 31 on the back-nine.
“Overall I felt confident with all parts of my game, I knew if I could get the ball in play off the tee I would have a lot of good opportunities into the greens and which I would be able to have several good looks at birdies,” Phillips said. “I started out the day hitting some really good shots, but I was struggling taking advantage of my opportunities. After driving the green on nine and three putting for par, I was upset with my performance on the front nine even though I was one-under. I knew I could’ve been a lot lower. Dad told me before the back nine to stop trying to force the ball in the hole on the greens and just to focus on my pace with the putter, I rolled the ball with better pace on the back nine and I was able to make five birdies to finish off my round.”
Last fall, Phillips earned a top-10 finish in the D-III state tournament — tying for third with Manchester’s Daulton McDonald with a two-day score of 10-over.
A year later, and the Valley sophomore is eyeing bringing home a larger piece of hardware to Lucasville.
“I have always put in a lot of work on my game and I will approach this tournament as all others I have played in and that is to win,” Phillips said. “Last year, I was right there with nine holes to play. I just wasn’t able to convert and finish it off. I want to bring a state championship back home this year.”
The 2021 D-III State Tournament was held at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course, while this year it will be held at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury.
Phillips is familiar with the course after having played there over the summer.
“The course is a good one, it’s definitely a championship golf course that will be challenging, several holes with water, wetlands and natural-habitat areas,” Phillips said. “I had the opportunity to play it this summer for a few days and getting the ball in the fairways off the tee will be big to be able to control my ball into their firm and fast greens.”
The difference in the state tournament and the preceding qualifying tournaments of course is the two-day, 36-hole scoring — as opposed to only 18 holes.
Focusing on one shot at a time is Phillips’ approach entering his second state event.
“It will be a long tournament. Playing 36 holes will require a lot of patience at times and not try to force shots as to just playing 18 holes where you need to get more aggressive at times,” Phillips said. “The plan will be to play my game, focus on each shot and not look to far ahead.”
The OHSAA D-III State Tournament will take place on Oct. 14 and 15 at NorthStar.
Phillips will tee off at 10:40 a.m. on Friday with the No. 1 individuals from the Central and Northeast districts.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved