Surry’s Tolbert, Hiatt qualify for national golf tournament

Dobson, NC – April 14, 2015.

Surry Community College may only have two women’s golfers this year, but both of them will be competing in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Golf Tournament May 11-15 in Mesa, Arizona.

Surry sophomores Kasie Tolbert and Gatlin Hiatt, both North Surry graduates, each qualified for the upcoming nationals by placing among the top five individuals April 11-12 in the Region X Tournament at The Emerald Golf Club in New Bern. Tolbert finished second overall in the region, firing a 79 on Saturday and following it up with an 80 on Sunday for a two-day score of 159. Only Spartanburg Methodist’s Nikita Arjun had a better score with a 154 on the Par 72, 5,690-yard course.

Hiatt was four strokes off the pace to qualify for nations after shooting a 98 on Saturday. She made the cut by improving her score by four strokes with a 94 on Sunday to finish with a two-day total of 192 – topping Spartanburg Methodist’s Kelsey Robinson and Johnston Community College’s Taylor Gates by one stroke for the final qualifying spot.

“I am pleased. I think these are two great young ladies and I am so happy for them,” Surry golf coach Tom Pendergraft said. “They have both expressed sadness that is going to be over with soon, that they have a good time. But they both have one more tournament. I think they have been really good young ladies and I will certainly miss them.”

Both Tolbert and Hiatt qualified for the national NJCAA Tournament last year in Daytona, Fla. By making it back this year, the two ladies extend the Knights’ streak to five years of sending a female golfer to the national tournament.

“They kept that tradition alive of going to nationals and I am very proud of them,” Pendergraft said.

Tolbert was in the running for the region championship much of the tournament as she was tied atop the leaderboard with Arjun on the 10th hole Sunday. A couple of bogeys on the back nine prevented Tolbert from finishing as top medalist, but it was still a great performance.

“It was a good match to watch as far as the top medalist between Casey, (Heather Hancock) from Sandhills Community College and (Arjun) from Spartanburg Methodist,” Pendergraft said. “Hancock shot a 75 on the first day and fell apart on the back nine. The girl from Spartanburg made no mistakes. Kasie had the opportunity to win, but there was a tremendous amount of pressure on her. It just wasn’t meant to be, but I thought she had a great round.”

Pendergraft said he wasn’t sure Hiatt would qualify after shooting a 98 on Saturday, putting her five strokes behind Robinson for the final qualifying spot. Robinson carded a score of 100 on Sunday, however, and Gales recorded a 99. Hiatt was the only one of the three to improve their Saturday score as she finished with a 94 to earn the last spot in the national tourney.

“Those girls didn’t do as well Sunday and Gatlin picked up four strokes less to qualify. I told her, ‘You made it by the skin of your teeth, but that’s great, you made it,’” Pendergraft said. “I was tickled. On the back nine she was spraying the ball. We talked about it and looked at a couple of stance positions and grip positions. She got back on track and made enough adjustments to put her over the top to qualify. The girls are excited about it.”

The Surry duo will now have almost a month to focus on the NJCAA National Tournament in May at the Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. They will fly west for the trip in May, which conflicts with the college’s final exams. Fortunately, the girls will get a mulligan.

“I would like to compliment the teachers at Surry Community College because that is exam week, but the teachers have said they are willing help them with their exams so it won’t be an issue with grades,” Pendergraft. “These girls both love golf. Gatlin started the golf team at North Surry. It is a struggle finding girls who want to come to Surry to play golf, but I think they are missing a great opportunity. It is wide open for young ladies in the golf world and these two girls are a great example of that.”

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