April 8, 2009
As a sophomore on the East Mississippi Community College golf team, Hal Larkin is making the most of a second chance.
Larkin has the second lowest average on EMCC''s team after being academically ineligible to play as a freshman.
Larkin, a 2007 graduate of Caledonia High School, has made the most of his last chance to play at EMCC by earning second-team all-state honors. He earned the honor based on being 10th in the state with a 76.7 stroke average.
"It''s like a major screwup and you don''t want to screw up again," Larkin said of how he regrouped after being academically ineligible to play this year. "During the summer I was like, ''I can''t wait to get back out there and play.'' I practiced every day during the summer. I was so ready to get back."
Larkin realized he had to make the grades and invest the time in the classroom to become eligible.
"I wanted to get my grades back so I could get back out there," Larkin said. "I''ve got my grades right. I''m doing a lot better."
Larkin''s stroke average is just behind freshman teammate Jordan Jamar, who has a 76.5 average.
While Larkin is excited to be back, EMCC coach Dale Peay is glad to have him back.
"Hal has made a very big contribution to our program this year," Peay said. "He came in and has been our No. 2 golfer in the spring. He has made a major contribution to our program this year.
"There''s no doubt we would not be where we are right now if Hal wouldn''t have been eligible. He''s a talented golfer."
Larkin helped EMCC finish third in the MACJC State Tournament with back-to-back rounds of 87 Monday and Tuesday at Kirkwood National in Holly Springs.
EMCC finished behind Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Gulf Coast Community College for its best finish at the state tournament.
Larkin believes he could have played better at the state tournament, but was happy the team fared well.
"It was rough," Larkin said. "There were like 40-mile an hour winds. It was miserable. It was the worst golf course conditions I''ve ever played in. It was the hardest course I''ve ever played. The lowest score was 79-79. I hit the ball great, but I did not score."
Larkin was coming off his best performance of the season, shooting rounds of 73 and 72 at Shiloh Ridge Golf Club in Corinth at a Northeast Community College-hosted tournament.
Larkin is glad to be able to play, but believes he could have played better this season.
"I think last year I should have gotten my grades up and done better than what I did," Larkin said. "What I''m shooting this year is what I should have shot last year. I should have improved my average by two strokes this year."
The next action for EMCC is in the regional on April 27-28, and Larkin''s goal is to qualify for nationals.
"My first objective is the team," Larkin said. "I''m looking forward to helping my team right. I''m playing for the team, just not myself."
Larkin believes EMCC can advance to the nationals as a team if it plays to its potential, and he''ll play a role in helping the team get there.