Sun. May 19th, 2024

La Salle’s golf stars took lessons from losing, set sights on another state crown

By admin May14,2024

PROVIDENCE — Olivia Williams sank her chip shot from just outside the green. Max Jackson’s attempt in the rough from the right of the green landed inches from the pin for a layup and drew applause from his Classical opponents.

La Salle’s golf stars boast immense talent, and their showing on fourth hole at Triggs Memorial Golf Course on Monday was proof. Their final scorecards, an even-par 35, proved something larger. Their performances helped La Salle to a 150 total; Classical finished at 244.

They’re not only equals on the course, but in their pursuit of Rhode Island’s golf apex.

Williams, a junior, finished runner-up for the individual title last spring after winning the state’s highest honor as a freshman.

Jackson, a two-time state champion and Rutgers University commit, finished third last year, ending his bid for four straight titles. Their play last year paced La Salle’s sweep of the team titles, and that is far more important to the Rams’ standouts.

“The goal was to go four [individual titles] in a row,” Jackson said. “But we won the team championship and obviously the team is first. I was still happy to get that for the guys and everyone on the team.”

Said Williams: “I was upset that I lost, but I did improve the second day. I was happy about that, happy that I kind of came back. And I’m really happy that we won as a team.”

La Salle's Olivia Williams follows her shot as she chips up to the green and into the cup on the 4th hole Monday afternoon.La Salle's Olivia Williams follows her shot as she chips up to the green and into the cup on the 4th hole Monday afternoon.

La Salle’s Olivia Williams follows her shot as she chips up to the green and into the cup on the 4th hole Monday afternoon.

For Williams, losing was almost a blessing. The setback gave her the opportunity to refocus on the mental side of the sport. She shot an 80 on the first day of the state tournament last year, but returned with the Day 2 low of 72.

This season, her mindset is about not going into tournaments trying to win every hole and, despite the talent, thinking she will win.

“Just go out there to try your best, and that’s the one thing that kind of helped me during the summer,” Williams said. “You can’t get in your own head and can’t get mad at every shot. It’s definitely made me  much cooler.”

For Jackson, last year’s loss was a surprise, but one that has set him on a path back to Cranston Country Club for the championships on May 28 and 29.

“I think finding that balance is good and last year was definitely a wake-up call that everyone else is getting better as the years go on,” Jackson said. “I just have to stay humble and stick to the process because it’s not just going to be given to me. It definitely was a good and bad thing that [the loss] happened.”

The La Salle boys added freshman Andrew MacLeod, of North Attleboro, to this year’s roster. The young star wasn’t in attendance on Monday as he was competing in a Massachusetts open qualifier, but he shot a 6-under 30 at Kirkbrae Country Club last week. The stunning mark could be a Rhode Island high school golf record.

“I think that he’s one of the best wedge players I’ve ever seen,” Jackson said of MacLeod. “He just doesn’t give up no matter where he is on the hole, whether it’s in the middle of the fairway or he’s having to hit some crazy shot, he always finds a way to get out of it.”

La Salle's Max Jackson hits out of the rough on the fourth hole during Monday's match.La Salle's Max Jackson hits out of the rough on the fourth hole during Monday's match.

La Salle’s Max Jackson hits out of the rough on the fourth hole during Monday’s match.

And Jackson, despite the added competition for the individual title, was the first to congratulate MacLeod on the achievement.

“As soon as the match ended, he was giving [MacLeod] a high five and hugging,” La Salle coach, Steven White, said. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch and they just really support each other. And [MacLeod] is very competitive, but he’s adapted to the same way that [Williams] and [Jackson] have with the team being first.”

jrousseau@providencejournal.com

On X: @ByJacobRousseau

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: La Salle Academy golfers set sights on state championship

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