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June 30, 2014

H.S. BOYS' GOLF: Floyd's Welch is area's top golfer

Highlander senior’s late-season play earns him honor

FLOYDS KNOBS — Connor Welch picked the perfect time to play his best golf during the 2014 season.

In the final meet of the regular season on June 5, the Floyd Central senior shot a 4-under-par 68 at Covered Bridge Golf Club to earn medalist honors in a quadrangular match between Providence Sectional foes Corydon Central, New Albany and Providence. Welch’s 68 propelled the Highlanders to win the meet with a team score of 295.

Four days later, Welch returned to Covered Bridge for the sectional and duplicated his 4-under 68 to collect sectional medalist honors for the first time in his career. Once again, Welch’s superb play helped the Highlanders win a meet. Floyd Central captured its 12th consecutive sectional title and its 25th championship in program history, compiling a team score of 299.

“That was a huge accomplishment,” Welch said about being the sectional medalist. “Shooting back-to-back 68’s at Covered Bridge was big. It gave me some confidence. It showed me what I can really do.”

The two solid consecutive rounds enabled Welch to be named this season’s News and Tribune Player of the Year.

“He deserves it,” Floyd Central head boys’ golf coach Mike Cason said. “He worked hard in his four-year career to be a better player. He had some ups and downs this season and I worked with him on some things. He got better by the end of the year and was playing some good golf.”

Welch is thrilled to win the award after one of his good friends and former teammates, Devin Jenkins, earned the Player of the Year honor last season. Jenkins, who recently completed his first season as a member of the IPFW boys’ golf team, finished second in last year’s IHSAA State Finals at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.

“I’m honored to be named [Player of the Year]. I join my good friend, Devin Jenkins, as a Player of the Year award winner. It’s a good honor to have,” said Welch, who had a nine-hole average score of 38.2. “I started the season off pretty well. I struggled during the mid-season. But at the sectional and the [meet] before that, I capped off my year well.”

Cason is proud of the way Welch has improved on his game since his freshman season.

“He really dedicated himself to be a better player,” Cason said. “From his freshman to his senior year, he showed improvement as a player and that’s what you want to see as a coach.”

Welch knew that he would play a significant role for the Highlanders during his senior year after they lost Jenkins, Daniel Shepard, who also played for IPFW this past season, and Alex Beyer from the 2013 squad that placed third at the state finals.

“I knew what was going to have to be done to win a 12th sectional in a row and get back to state. I knew following last year’s team would be rough,” Welch said.

Welch and his teammates on this year’s squad definitely found out how tough an act the 2013 team was to follow at the Providence Regional on June 12 at Champions Pointe Golf Club.

The Highlanders placed fifth at regional with a 312, coming up two spots short of returning to the state finals. Welch ended up with a 4-over 76.

Floyd Central missed the state finals for the first time since 2008. The top three teams at regional advanced to state.

Welch said conditions at Champions Pointe that day were challenging, especially on the back nine.

“It was a really tough course,” he said. “Everybody has an off-day. I just couldn’t get going. We faced a tough backside that day.”

Welch has been accepted to the University of Louisville. But he is waiting to see if he gets any offers to play college golf before making his final college decision.

“It’s up in the air,” Welch said. “Right now, I’m set to go to U of L. But I might attend another college to play golf.”

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