Another state championship by the University of Mobile’s Heather Nail highlights an impressive run of success for area golfers.
Nail brought home the 83rd annual Women’s State Amateur Championship title, which was played at the Gadsden Country Club. It is the second major win for the Hartselle, Alabama, native, who captured the Women’s State Four Ball Championship in 2012.
“When I was playing with Mrs. Kathy (Hartwiger), I knew I was playing with the best,” Nail said of the 10-time defending champ, “and to play with the best you have to obviously play your best. At the end of the day, my best was better than hers during this particular match.”
Nail took the lead on the sixth hole and never trailed. During three days of play, she won four matches.
It’s been quite a year for Nail, who was a second-team All-American, after finishing tied for 17th place at the NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship. She was named the Southern States Athletic Conference women’s golfer of the year. As a sophomore with the Lady Rams, she won four tournaments and placed in the top three in four other events.
“Setting my goals and preparing to exceed them is what I’ve tried to do,” Nail said, “and it’s working out pretty well so far.”
● Kaeli Jones, who just finished her freshman season at the University of South Alabama (USA), took medalist honors last week during the Suncoast Ladies Tour event at the Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis, Florida. The Sumterville, Florida, native turned in a three-round, three-under-par total of 213 to become the first champion and low amateur on the tour.
Jones will now began preparing for the U.S. Golf Association Women’s Amateur qualifier at Kenwood Golf Club in Bethesda, Maryland, taking place this week. She must shoot par or better in order to qualify for the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur event in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 10-16.
“This gives me a lot of confidence for that, because I feel like if I can shoot this and just keep doing what I am doing this whole week until the qualifier next Wednesday, then it will go pretty well,” she said. “If I can keep this confidence, then it will be a lot of fun.”
● Robby Shelton of Wilmer has been named a PING first-team All-America honoree for the second consecutive year. With the announcement by the Golf Coaches Association of America, the University of Alabama has now had at least one player recognized for nine straight seasons.
“I am very proud of Robby,” Crimson Tide coach Jay Seawell said. “Making first-team All-America in back-to-back years is a great accomplishment. It is a result of dedication to the game and the talent he has.”
Shelton, who finished his sophomore season ranked as the No. 7 golfer in the Golfweek/Sagarin performance index, led the Tide with a 70.61 per round stroke average. He won the Southern Highlands Masters event, while also recording six top-five finishes.
A semifinalist for the prestigious Ben Hogan Award, Shelton recently won all four of his matches to help lead the U.S. team to an 18-12 win over Europe in the Palmer Cup. Shelton was one of two Americans to post a perfect record in the event, which was played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. In his two years with the U.S. team, Shelton has a 6-2 record.
● Two members of the men’s golf team at USA finished among the leaders at recent events. Daniel Jansen and Drew Cooke both finished tied for seventh place in their respective tourneys.
Jansen, a rising senior, competed at the Greystone Invitational in Birmingham. He was one of only eight players to finish below par, having posted a 1-under-par total of 287.
Cooke, an incoming junior college transfer, competed at the 98th Florida Amateur Championship in Ocala. He competed against 168 golfers, while Jansen was in a field of 145.
More track and field honors
USA’s Jan-Louw Kotze has just been selected to the third-team Capital One Academic All-American men’s track and field/cross-country team. Kotze, an exercise science major with a 4.0 GPA, is a two-time academic all-district pick.
In competition, the junior from Kleinzee, North Cape, South Africa, was an honorable mention All-American in the discus. He finished 20th at the NCAA Championships with a toss of 54.96 meters. At the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) finals, he set a league mark with a toss of 59.72 meters. He also had personal bests at the SBC event in the hammer throw (60.88 meters) and shot put (16.34 meters).
Teammate Renaldo Frechou earned first-team All-American honors at the NCAA finals in the men’s hammer throw. The junior reached 68.84 meters on his final throw to place fifth. The native of Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa, was seventh in the national finals last season. He holds the SBC record in the hammer throw with an effort of 69.67 meters.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Beans completed an impressive showing for the USA team. She was an honorable mention All-American in the women’s triple jump. The Montgomery native posted a mark of 12.58 meters to finish 17th.
Sean Collins, who will join the Jaguar team next year as a freshman, had an outstanding performance at the U.S. Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships last week. The McGill-Toolen Catholic High School graduate beat his previous best — a state-record 17-3.25 leap — after clearing 17-10.5 in Eugene, Oregon. It tied the second-highest height posted at the meet, but Collins finished third on the number of misses. It equals the best height recorded by a high school athlete this season.
Wife of baseball legend passes away
Carolyn Elizabeth Aaron, the widow of the Major League Baseball player Tommie Aaron, died on June 29. Joe Gottfried of the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame said Mrs. Aaron was very active with their board and had attended many of their banquets.
Tommie, the younger brother of Hank Aaron, was inducted into the MSHOF in 1992. Mrs. Aaron was a native of Milwaukee, where Tommie played for several seasons before finishing his career in Atlanta.
Mrs. Aaron was buried Monday at Catholic Cemetery, where her husband was laid to rest in 1984. The family is asking for any memorials to be made in her honor to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute’s Office of MCI Development, 300 Alumni Circle, Mobile, Alabama, 36688.