CORNELIUS – Hough High’s Patrick Cover faced the golf shot every linkster dreams about. Sink this putt and you’re a champion.
But there was a slight obstacle.
“My hands were shaking,” Cover said, laughing.
Cover, a senior, overcame his brief case of nerves to sink the three-foot putt that made him the N.C. 4A individual state champion. It came on the first hole of overtime following 36 holes in the two-day tournament at Carolina Trace Country Club in Sanford.
The championship makes him the Herald Weekly Boys’ Golfer of the Year.
“It was really cool and just a great feeling,” Cover said. “It was fun to be recognized at school by a lot of people.”
He also got a shout-out over the public address system at two of the Hough girls’ soccer playoff matches following his championship. Cover is the first Husky to win an individual golf title in the school’s four-year history.
Cover shot a four-under par 68 in the first round of the state tournament. As his second (and final) round was winding down, he and those in his playing group mistakenly thought he’d wrapped up the title when he finished the 18th hole.
But Stephen Franken (Raleigh Millbrook High) had shot a 68 in his second round to tie Cover, which forced a playoff.
“I had a couple of bogeys toward the end and didn’t finish strong,” Cover said. “It was tough mentally to go to the playoff thinking that I’d already won. I had already hugged teammates and high-fived people.”
Cover regrouped quickly. The playoff began on hole No. 10, which he’d played well both days. His drive, using a 3-iron, sailed about 250 yards. He then used a pitching wedge to drop the ball about three feet from the hole.
Tap-in. Birdie. State championship.
“Patrick and I have been working individually for a little over a year now on his game,” Hough coach Erik Herberth said. “I have always said that Patrick has unbelievable talent. This year he is starting to bring all that potential to the surface.”
“The key to winning the playoff hole was two-fold. First and foremost he hit three great shots. Second, he stuck to the plan. He didn't try to do anything different or to try to force the issue.”
Cover said his game improved because his distance off the tee increased. That came through workouts to add a bit of bulk. He was the key player in Hough’s team that didn’t lose a match en route to the MECKA 4A conference championship and third-place finish in the state tournament.
Cover’s golf career will extend to college. He’s signed to play at UNC Wilmington next fall.
HERALD WEEKLY BOYS’ GOLF COACH OF THE YEAR
CORNELIUS – Erik Herberth’s Hough High golf team was so good, its toughest competition often came from within.
The Huskies were unbeaten in MECKA 4A conference matches, often winning by 20 or 30 strokes. The top of the individual leader board was often crowded with Hough golfers. The top spot rotated among Hough’s deep roster, which included Patrick Cover, Blake Wagoner, Blake Fiest, David Yang and Matt Sharpstene.
The Huskies finished third in the N.C. 4A West Regional and the N.C. 4A state tournament. That sustained excellence makes Herberth the Herald Weekly Boys’ Golf Coach of the Year.
“I am proud of all the boys for another great season,” he said. “We do, however, have to continue to do the little things to get better as a team so we can bring home a team (state) title in the near future.”