May 6, 2013 1:23:06 AM
It's a simple philosophy, but Cade Lott knows how well it can work.
Now the Heritage Academy senior hopes to put that approach to work today in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall Class AAA State Golf tournament at Hattiesburg Country Club.
Lott is coming off a high-school best round of 71 Tuesday that helped him earn medalist honors at the Class AAA North State meet at Greenwood Country Club. His finish helped Heritage Academy shoot a 316 team score and finish second to Pillow Academy. Those two schools and Jackson Academy and Magnolia Heights are the other two schools from the North that will compete today. Jackson Prep, Parklane Academy, Starkville Academy, and Presbyterian Christian will represent the South.
Today's tournament will be Lott's final chance to add another title to his haul. In the fall, he was quarterback of the school's football team that won the Class AAA, Division II state championship. After beating Madison-Ridgeland Academy's Griffin Agent on the third playoff hole last week to earn the individual crown, Lott said a team title would be a great way to end his high school career.
"When we won in 2011 with the golf team it was awesome," Lott said. "It would be awesome to feel it again with these guys. Evan (McElrath) and Hunter Anderson were on the team in 2011, but now we have my cousin Douglas (Kilarski) and Austin Fitch on the team, so it would be awesome to win it with them, too."
Lott said Heritage Academy was confident in it chances to win last week, but he said he is glad the team has another chance. He also has another shot to take home some more hardware. Coming off a performance that nearly matched his career low of 70, Lott believes he is prepared, especially considering he had limited practice time last week prior to the Class AAA North State meet. A senior play limited the time Lott could have been on the course or on the greens chipping and putting. It all worked out, though, as he parred the first four holes and then eagled No. 5, a par-4 that goes about 300 feet.
"I made that eagle being aggressive because I tried to drive the green off the tee," Lott said. "I just kept the game plan and stayed aggressive and tried to make more birdies."
Lott birdied No. 6 and didn't have another birdie the rest of the day. But he said that two-hole stretch paved the way for his best score of the season. The eagle and birdie also gave him the confidence to believe in his shot selection and to balance aggressiveness and intelligence in shot attempts.
Lott bogeyed No. 9 and made the turn at 2-under par. He said he continued playing to his philosophy of not making worse than a bogey and not three-putting all the way through regulation and into the playoff. He and Agent parred No. 1 and bogeyed No. 2. On No. 3, a par-3 from about 200 yards Lott said is the hardest on the course, he said he hit one of his best shots of the day off the tee to put himself about 12 feet from the hole. He said missed the green and he two-putted to earn medalist honors.
"My putting has been struggling a little bit, so my dad gets out there and works with me," said Lott, of his father, Toby. "He has helped me a lot on my strokes, so I had more confidence to make more putts and not three-putt. Three-putt aggravates me so bad so I have been working on that not to do that."
Lott, who will attend Mississippi State University in the fall, hopes that work will pay off again today. He said he learned a valuable lesson after missing a birdie putt on No. 18 that could have prevented him from playing the playoff. He also thrived under the added attention of a playoff.
Now that his final round is here, Lott wants to make it special. His plan is to follow a simple philosophy and to ride it all the way to another championship.
This time, Lott ants his teammates to join him on the ride.
"If we play to our potential -- I think we have great potential -- we have a good chance," Lott said.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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