Despite loss of veterans, this unflappable squad loves to play golf

The Tiger golf team (left to right) Jordan Kirk, Garrett Koronek, Tyler Pruett, Grant Galbreath, Tucker Tovar returns to state. The Tiger golf team (left to right) Jordan Kirk, Garrett Koronek, Tyler Pruett, Grant Galbreath, Tucker Tovar returns to state. Rockdale golf coach Daniel Guerra can’t wait to get out to Rockdale Country Club every day.

Because he knows that no matter what is going on in his life, it’s about to get a little brighter.

“I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for, but let me try to explain,” Guerra says, “these are the easiest going, most laid back, fun group of guys to be around. “That is not to say that when it comes time to play, they can’t get focused—their record speaks for itself.”

At a recent practice round at the RCC to prepare for state, the comradery shows. In other words, the brotherly trashtalking abounded, led by senior Garrett Korenek who was propped in a golf cart eating cake and sunflower seeds as fast as he could while dispensing his wrath on his teammates.

He’s left-handed, so that explains a lot.

“It is just a great group of kids to be associated with—they all like each other, get along well, and a good mix of experience and intensity.”

The mix Guerra is referring to consists of two seniors and three sophomores. Korenek and Grant Galbreath represent the senior class, while Tyler Pruett, Tucker Tovar and Jordan Kirk are the sophomores.

At one time or another during the season, each one of them has taken the reins at a tournament.

At district, it was Pruett and at regionals, the Tigers were so closely bunched that just seven shots seperated leader Korenek and fourth in line Pruett.

“For the two seniors, Grant and Garrett, I am so glad that their last high school tournament will be playing for state,” Guerra said. “Garrett missed out on playing last year, but has been the catalyst, I believe, for the team’s overall success.

“Grant played very well early on, but has had to deal with some illnesses and nagging injuries. I am hopeful he is close to one-hundred percent and look for a great state tournament from him. Garrett has come through in a huge way.”

The Tigers lost golf rat Kirk Williams (tied for district medalist) and Patrick David who were on the teams that made two trips to state, but the sophomores have made great strides to overcome the losses.

Pruett and Tovar played last year.

“While Tucker and Tyler played on last year’s team, I don’t believe they had the impact they have had this year,” Guerra said. “There were some very good players on last year’s team, so I don’t think Tucker and Tyler were counted on like we count on them this year.

“And man, have they responded. As well as Jordan. He came through with a couple of great rounds during district and region play.”

The Tigers do have some state experience to draw from. In 2011 at Kizer, Korenek shot a (87-78) 165, while Galbreath had a (85-86) 171.

“Bottom line, they are all very talented and they love golf. You can find them on the golf course most days after school, and on weekends.

“They love to play golf.”

Guerra—in his first coaching job—is the third coach to lead the Tigers to the state tournament along with Dusty Loewe and Earl Gandy.

Rockdale is making its third trek to the state tournament in the past four years, missing out last year after going in 2010 and 2011.

In their two previous state appearances, the Tigers finished seventh in 2011 and eighth in 2010.

Change of venue

The Class 3A tournament has been moved from Roy Kizer to the more traditional Jimmy Clay course. While they are located next to each other, they are wildly different.

Kizer is a Scottish links-style layout of 200 frustrating acres surrounded by water.

Clay has a PGA Tour layout.

“I can’t say I wouldn’t rather be playing Kizer,” Guerra said. “I think it plays more to our strengths, which is strong drives. The guys do like to hit the driver.

“Clay will require more irons - hybrids off the tee. We will have to be precise off the tee if we hope to have any success down there. I hope I can convince them of that. The key will be to keep the ball in play —fairways and greens—try to stay away from the big number, no double or triple bogeys. I have preached all year, par is always a great score. Sometimes bogey isn’t that bad either.”

Fredericksburg returns to defend its state championship and is joined by four other returnees in the field: Andrews, Big Spring, Gatesville and Argyle.

Caldwell joins the tournament, led by Carson Scitern, who is making his second trip to state. He was a medalist participant last year and placed ninth.

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