The Fort Payne Wildcat golf team finished third in a 17-team tournament Monday in Hartselle.

The ‘Cats shot a 324, which fell in second behind Muscle Shoals High School and Hartselle, who shot 317 and 309, respectively.

Head coach Zane Haymon said the tourney was a great opportunity for the ‘Cats to get some experience on the course where they will participate in the Class 6A sectional tournament.

“That’s the main reason we played in it,” Haymon said. “It’s the first time for a lot of the guys playing in it, and it’s a good place to play in that tournament type setting.”

It was the first time eighth graders Dawson Garrett and Harrison Davis each played the course, and the two standout eighth-grade golfers shot a 78 and 80, respectively.

Senior Sam Evans ended up with two balls out of bounds, which gave him a much higher score than the ‘Cats originally had hoped for.

Haymon said Evans expects better out of himself, as well, and he expects the senior golfer to improve even more in the coming weeks.

“Sam has been kind of in a slump all year, and we’re kind of waiting for him to have a breakout day,” Haymon said. “We think if he and then Dawson and Harrison continue to improve, then we’ll be fine. But, we’ll need them all to step up.”

The course is basically the home course for those other two squads, so Haymon was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I was pleased,” he said. “But, everybody on that team felt that they could do better. If we finished third in the sectional meet, then we would’ve advanced, but we know we can do better.”

But, he said there’s still work to be done. For instance, Fort Payne stacks up against those two teams in the sectional and substate meet, so Haymon said at some point they’d have to beat out on of those top programs.

“We’re going to have to beat Hartselle and Muscle Shoals, and right now we’re not there yet, but the possibility to do that one day is there,” Haymon said.

The team will take a week off for spring break before they return to the links and head to Tori Pines in Cullman on April 4 for the Bert McGriff Tournament.

The tournament is another invitational tournament, and Haymon said the course was one they would need to familiarize themselves with because it was where the substate tournament would be held.

Haymon said he was confident in the team’s growth so far this season, and he feels like they keep improving from week to week, which is something they will need to continue to do if they hope to advance to the state championship.

“We’ll need them to step up,” Haymon said. “Our team is so young, and it’s got so much potential, and if they can grasp that and put it together, and I think it will happen, then we’ll be fine.”

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