South Carolina’s excellence in junior golf is no secret, and Dwight Cauthen Jr. has secured a place on the stars of tomorrow watch list.
A home-schooled 16-year-old who plays on the A.C. Flora golf team, he served noticed by winning the CGA’s South Carolina Junior Match-Play tourney in July. Then he presented himself a early Christmas present with an impressive victory last weekend in the Carolinas PGA Section’s Charles Tilghman Junior Championship at the Surf Club in North Myrtle Beach.
Cauthen rolled through the match-play with one of his six matches reaching the 18th hole, and he took command in the Tilghman tourney with a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 in the first round.
“Both were good wins,” he said. “But the 65 is the best score I’ve had in competition, and making seven birdies with no bogeys made it a special round.”
Cauthen started playing with his dad and grandfather at age 7, then got serious about the game at 12 and began to compete with SCJGA events. He plays at the Forest Lake Club and works with instructor Ricky Sullivan at Bulls Bay near Charleston.
He started fast in the Tilghman tourney, playing the front nine in 4-under 32. He finished with a 33 on the back side.
“I knew I was playing well after the 32, but I didn’t really pay attention to my score until we finished,” he said. “I knew it had to be low, and I knew that 2-under had won the tournament the year before, so I had a good feeling.
“I hit everything good, but I really putted well. My short game was in very good shape.”
With a four-stroke lead, Cauthen played conservatively over the final 18 holes, posted a 1-over 73 and prevailed by three strokes.
In the girls’ competition in the Tilghman tourney, Ashley Sloup (Southport, N.C.) outlasted Kelli Murphy (Elgin) in a remarkable playoff after the pair finished 36 holes at 1-over 145.
Both players birdied the first two playoff holes before Sloup made a 40-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole.
The Tilghman champions: Cauthen (boys’ overall and 15-16 age-group); Keenan Huskey (Greenville, boys’ 17-18); Jack Massei (Cary, N.C., boys’ 13-14); Sloup (girls’ overall and 16-18); and Victoria Huskey (girls’ 13-15).
Mel Sole, who operates golf schools at Pawleys Plantation and Grande Dunes Resort Club in the Myrtle Beach area, has been named a Master Professional by the PGA of South Africa, one of 18 to earn that status. A native of South Africa, he is ranked among the nation’s top teachers by national magazines and his schools appear on the “top golf schools” list. ... Clemson freshman women’s golfer Ashlan Ramsey has been chosen by the USGA as one of 14 players to participate in a practice session for the 2014 Curtis Cup Match. The session for prospective players will be conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2014, at Champions Golf Club in Houston, while the 2014 Curtis Cup Match will be conducted June 6-8 at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club. ... Five Charleston area non-profits received $10,000 each from the Heritage Classic Foundation, beneficiary of the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing. The foundation has donated $2.1 million this year and more than $25 million since 1987. Tickets for the 2014 tournament, scheduled the week of April 14-20 at Hilton Head Island’s Harbour Town Golf Links, are on sale through the tournament office (843-671-2448) or online at www.rbcheritage.com.