By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
So much for first-time jitters.
Abbey Catron and Courtney Catron, cousins and teammates on the Carthage High School golf team last fall, notched their second victories of the competition to help Joplin regain possession of the Women’s Horton Smith Cup on Tuesday.
Joplin, ahead by three points after Monday’s doubles matches at the Carthage Municipal Golf Course, posted a 14-10 advantage in singles play at Briarbrook Golf Course for a 21 1/2-14 1/2 final advantage.
Joplin earned the cup for the fourth time in the last five years, and most of the players celebrated by jumping in the Briarbrook pool. Springfield owns a 58-19-3 advantage in the series that dates back to 1931, but this is Joplin’s strongest showing since it won four straight from 1936-39.
“I really did not think we would win by as much as we did,” Joplin captain Sue Browning said. “That was a very pleasant surprise. Some of our players had really tough matches, and I’m proud they were able to win.”
“I like the camaraderie with the Springfield group,” Billie Dahnke said. “I’ve made friends who will be lifetime friends.
“And we don’t get to play matches like this. These are real, real matches, and we don’t play that. We play scrambles most of the time. This brings out a different attitude all together, a different type of golf than what we’re used to playing.”
Dahnke, who has played on 15 Horton Smith teams, and the other Joplin players welcomed the Catrons, who made their Horton Smith debuts.
“This is the first year we’ve had really young ones on our team,” Dahnke said. “It’s awesome, it’s just awesome. We’re trying to set examples for them, but then you look at them, they are setting examples for us, too ... the demeanor on how they play the game, the honesty in the way they play, the ability they have. And their dedication is probably the most important thing.”
Naturally the Catrons battled some nerves.
“I wasn’t really nervous to play, but I was nervous because it was Abbey and my first time ever playing match play,” Courtney said. “We were excited to see how it went, and it went well.“
“I was a little nervous actually,” Abbey said. “But once we got to the third hole, it was relaxing. It was fun.”
Abbey, who will be a junior this year at Carthage, won her singles match 8 and 6. Courtney, who will be a freshman at Missouri Southern, was 2-down after seven holes but rallied to win 2 and 1.
“It was really fun,” Abbey said. “We were kind of confused at time ... like the order we play in.”
“One of the problems we have in golf right now is we don’t have a lot of young players,” Browning said. “The fact that they won their fourball matches (Monday) and they won (Tuesday), that just touches my heart. I’m absolutely delighted, for them and for us. I’m hoping we can get more of the young people playing.”
Six more Joplin players also followed a doubles victory with a singles win — Jill West, Pam Borland, Peggy Hinde, Terri Cox, Sally Downey and Tammy Thomas.
Deb McFarland, Debbie Doss, Rose Mary Grant, Sue Taylor and Browning notched singles victories for Joplin, and Heather Parrish and Becky Bruder halved their matches.
McFarland had the shortest match, an 8 and 7 decision after she won the first three holes of the match and later the final six holes. By contrast, Parrish was 3-down after 15 holes but won the final three holes to earn the half-point.