Cornett stays on a roll

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   If you believe that nobody's perfect, you haven't seen Matt Cornett's match record this season in prep golf.
   The Johnson County standout has now won the first four matches that he's played in this year. He continued that streak on Tuesday by shooting a 37 to take top individual honors in a match between the Longhorns, Elizabethton, Happy Valley and Sullivan North at the Elizabethton Golf Course.
   EHS won the match as a team by shooting a very solid 155. The Cyclones were followed by Johnson County (176), Sullivan North (178) and Happy Valley (183).
   Cornett edged out Elizabethton's Daniel Sochalski, Happy Valley's Dustin White and Elizabethton's Brad Brown by one stroke to take the win.
   "I'm winning by the skin of my teeth," Cornett said. "Barely."
   Cornett has emerged this season as one of the top golfers around. He was good last year, but now Cornett thinks he mentally has what it takes to step his game up to the next level.
   "I've learned not to let the bad holes bother me," Cornett said. "If I just throw in a birdie every once in a while I'll shoot some good scores."
   Cornett proved he has learned not to let bad things bother him after an unfortunate shot on hole No. 6.
   "I hit the green on No. 6, and thought I was putting for eagle along with everybody else in my group," Cornett said. "But I couldn't find my ball. And I still don't know where it went. When you hit it on the green it usually sticks. That would have been a 35 if I could have just two-putted. But I ended up doubling that hole, and that was the only hole I was over-par on. But it happens.
   "Excluding that hole, I played the most solid round I've played this year. I didn't make a lot of putts, but I made enough I guess."
   It's still a little early to talk about the District 1-AA tournament, but Cornett has asserted himself as one of the favorites going into next month's event.
   Cornett thinks he's playing some great golf right now.
   "I'm real confident in my game right now," Cornett said. "If somebody beats me, they've played a good round. I've been hitting the practice range hard. If somebody beats me, they've earned it.
   Cornett, who plays regularly at Roan Valley Golf Course in Mountain City, thought it was definitely an achievement to win on Tuesday at a golf course that he's not particularly fond of.
   "This golf course doesn't suit me real well," Cornett said. "I like to drive the ball a long ways, and this course has got some lay-up holes. It really doesn't suit my game the way I like to play, because I get the upper-hand on people by driving the ball. These lay-up holes, I don't hit my long irons as well. I'm kind of at a disadvantage there."
   Sochalski believes he can knock Cornett off his perch by district time.
   "I know I can beat him," Sochalski said. "I just hope I can play good golf and that he plays good golf, and we'll see what happens."
   Sochalski was happy about the Cyclones' easy win in the team competition on Tuesday. In addition to Sochalski and Brown's 38's, Eric Carter shot a 39, Craig Shaw shot a 40 and Jered Collins and Jared Thomas each put up 41's.
   "I'm real pleased with how we played as a team," Sochalski said. "I think we've got a real good chance of winning the district as a team. The team is stepping up."
   Brown also thinks this Cyclone team is going to be tough to handle down the road.
   Brown is hoping this squad can make it to the state tournament.
   "I think if there's a year, this is the year we're going to go," Brown said.
   As for Brown, he rebounded nicely after shooting a 46 on Monday at a match in Mountain City. He was demoted in the order he played due to that round, but will be back up near the top for his next match.
   "It was a rough round (Monday)," Brown said. "I got demoted, so I just tried to play solid. I didn't make any putts, but I played pretty well overall."
   White played very well for Happy Valley head coach Chuck Babb. He's the only player that returns to the Warrior squad with any varsity experience.
   "He's pretty solid," Babb said. "He shot even par a couple of times last year. He usually shoots in the 30's. He played around No. 2 and No. 3 for us last season, so we knew he was going to come in and play well."
   Babb thinks the rest of his team will come around as time goes on.
   "We're in a little bit of a rebuilding process," Babb said. "We don't have but one guy who had any match experience last year. The other five have never played in a varsity match before. We're young and inexperienced, but we're getting better. We've improved probably 16 strokes since the beginning of the year. A couple of years, these guys will be ready."
   T.J. Wilson's 39 was the top score for Sullivan North.