|Gabbard, Muller Shoot in 60s in Tournament Win|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore Joel Craft watches after ahot in a recent match. The Bluebirds won their eighth tournament Sunday taking the Bourbon County Invitational.|
The Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team had not done any overnight trips this year as a result of Coronavirus 2019.
But they did one Saturday still maintaining protocols and it paid off Sunday when the Bluebirds won the Bourbon County Invitational shooting 292 out of 16 teams. That's the eighth tournament they've won this season and it bested the score of the 2018 8th Region championship team by one shot.
That tops the best score of the year by two strokes. The Bluebirds shot 294 winning the Bullitt East Invitational at Tanglewood Golf Club in Taylorsville to open the season July 31.
Head Coach Bert Richey said family members ventured to Bowling Green on Saturday and bought their own hotels. Players have been traveling separately to matches as part of the Coronavirus protocols.
"It was a good weekend for the kids to get away and travel," Richey said. "It was really good not only to golf, but for the kids get back to some normalcy. We normally travel, spend the night and play."
Highlands seniors Justin Gabbard and Luke Muller took their consistent play to a high level Sunday. They both shot in the 60s in the event played at the Par 72 Houston Oaks Golf Course in Paris. Gabbard earned medalist honors out of 77 golfers shooting a five-under par 67 and Muller finished third shooting 69.
Gabbard had three birdies (one under par) and one eagle (two under) on the front nine of 18 holes on his way to the victory on the course Richey described as soft as a result of rain in recent days. Gabbard has won two tournaments this year and shot a few eagles. He also shot a season-best 67 at the Beechwood Invitational at Hickory Sticks Golf Club in California (Kentucky).
"I think the most important thing about golf is discipline and owning up to your mistakes, especially owning up to your mental mistakes," Gabbard said. "A lot of people just like to make excuses. I used to be one of those people. I would just make an excuse for every shot. I've gotten to the point where you know if you've made a mistake or not. The more you own up to it, the easier it is to learn from it and do better on your next shot because the more excuses you make, the easier it is to brush it off and not work on issues you're having. It's made me work harder off the course and take more time on the course."
Sophomore Joel Craft had another good game shooting 75 and eighth grader Hank Shick shot 81 to finish off the Highlands scoring. Freshman Ryan Toole also golfed in the tournament. Craft, Gabbard and Muller helped the Bluebirds to the region crown two years ago.
"There's no doubt that Luke and Justin are very good," Richey said. "They're two of the top players in the state. Joel and Hank did a great job of team scores. Joel beat the other teams' three men. That's what put us further ahead. If all four of the kids can play like that, then we can be successful."
Highlands plays Beechwood on Monday on Senior Day. The dual match starts at 3:20 p.m. at Highland Country Club.
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