Lady Tiger golfers start season
unbeaten after sending a pair of individual players to ’05 state tourney
The Lady Tiger golfers at Pigeon Forge High School could be the best team that nobody knows about.
If the Lady Tigers head coach has his say, the Pigeon Forge girls won’t be a secret around the area much longer.
Jim Lethco, who recently stepped up to fill the role of school athletic director when former AD Larry Cannon took a job out of state, helped guide Pigeon Forge golfers Katie Doane and Brittany McCown to state tournament appearances last season as individual players.
The Lady Tigers fell just shy of making headlines across East Tennessee last year as a team, and were ousted from the postseason when a skilled Rutledge team eliminated them from the region tourney by two strokes.
Instead, Doane and McCown each qualified for the state event by virtue of their strong respective individual scores during the region. McCown, then a ninth-grader, finished second overall at last year’s region tournament, and Doane, then a sophomore, was forced to play a head-to-head playoff with another competitor to gain the final individual invitation to the state.
Only the winner of the region championship qualifies for the state as a team, whereas the top four individual players in the region tournament get invitations to play for the state championship.
Being such young players from a school without a substantial golfing history, the two Lady Tigers were a tad intimidated at the prestigious state tournament, which was evident by their respective performances at the event.
Doane finished 28th overall and McCown finished 31st.
“They were real nervous,” their coach explained. “They both started slow—I think they both double-bogeyed the first hole. It was an avenue they had never been down before and I think their nerves really got them at state.”
Lethco thinks his dynamic duo is all the better for the experience though. Doane and McCown, along with first-year teammate Jerica King, have picked back up where they left off last season before the state tournament.
The Lady Tigers scored a total of 81 as a team Monday afternoon, defeating county rival Seymour (109) at Creekside Plantation Golf Course to improve to 6-0 on the young season.
Both Doane and McCown appear to be already in midseason form as Doane finished Monday with a round of 40, while her teammate was a stroke off, finishing with a round of 41.
Amanda Columbo had the Lady Eagles best score, finishing the round with a total of 51.
“They’re real good,” Seymour assistant golf coach Lee Ramsey remarked on the Lady Tigers. “Two of their girls went to state last year as individuals. I’d say they’re the best girls golf team in the county.”
Lethco agrees with his coaching counterpart at Seymour. The Lady Tigers coach feels his girls have a legitimate shot at making it back to state as a team this season. To do so, they’ll have to redeem themselves against the same Rutledge squad that ended their season as a team last year.
“I feel if we continue to play well, we have a good shot at making it back this year as a team,” Lethco commented. “My girls have played a lot this summer, and I think they learned a lot from last year’s experience. Rutledge will be good again this year, and they’ll have everybody back.”
Lethco is entering his sixth season as the school’s golf coach, and will continue his duties on the links while taking over as the school’s athletic director. He said the Lady Tigers accomplishment of playing at the state last year was even more commendable considering the school has such a young golf program, with only five graduating classes in PFHS history.