By DAVID DROSCHAK
The Martins have been in the spotlight for more than a decade now, two brothers from the Pinehurst area who began dominating U.S. Kids Golf World Championships at a young age, then progressing into highly ranked junior players.
Back in the day, they went by Zachary and Joshua. Now, they have surged past 6 feet tall and Zach and Josh are star players for Southern Pines Pinecrest High School, which entered the 2013 state high school 4-A golf championship as one of the favorites.
While Josh, a sophomore, won four U.S. Kids titles, it was older brother Zach who emerged as the hero this time around, recording the only birdie in a dramatic team playoff with Charlotte Myers Park as the senior propelled Pinecrest to its second state crown in six seasons.
“It’s a heck of a way to go out,” Zach Martin said. “It sets a standard for all the young freshmen and hopefully we can continue that tradition for years to come. It’s great to have the home team back with the trophy.”
Pinecrest led by six shots after the first round, but Myers Park staged a comeback on the back nine on day two at Pinehurst No. 8 to force a sudden-death playoff in which four players from each team headed back to the par-5 17th hole to decide a winner.
University of North Carolina-bound Zach Martin, who finished sixth as an individual with a pair of 73s, was the first to tee off and proceeded to lace a drive down the middle of the fairway.
“That drive was pure adrenalin, that’s the only way to put it,” said Zach Martin, whose drive measured more than 300 yards, leaving him with just a 9-iron to the green on the par-5 hole.
“Being the first one up, hitting a good drive, kind of set the standard for the rest of the guys to go. It was really key for our team. And hey, it was in the fairway – that was important, too.”
Martin’s approach shot fell victim to the green’s false front and rolled off, but he chipped to within 8 feet and sank the birdie putt. It ended up being the only birdie of the four players from each team entered into the playoff, giving the title to Pinecrest.
With no scoreboards in high school golf, it’s often difficult to access where individuals and teams stand until the scores are posted in ink, but the buzz around the course as the final groups approached the 18th green was that Myers Park had overtaken Pinecrest and would win, and Austin Morrison’s 3-foot birdie putt on the final hole was just icing on the cake for the Charlotte school.
“I was told after the round that we actually lost,” said Pinecrest freshman James Sugg, who tied for 12th individually with rounds of 73 and 76. “I was kind of bummed there for awhile so the turn of events was pretty crazy. That putt by Zach in the playoff was pretty crucial, pretty clutch.”
“It was crazy, it is really nerve-racking,” added Josh Martin. “I was more nervous on that tee than I was the first tee of the day. But after Zach’s first shot I kind of relaxed. I’m happy to see him get a state title under his belt.”
Pinecrest finished second in 2012, three shots behind Raleigh Broughton after making up 10 shots on the second day.
“Last year we had a great chance to win but we fell behind by 13 shots after the first round,” Josh Martin said. “We had a heck of a day the second day to give us a chance to win but it just didn’t happen. This means a lot to our program moving forward.”
Cornelius Hough finished third, six shots behind the leaders, while defending state champion Raleigh Broughton was one more stroke behind.
It was just the third time since 1998 that a team from outside Wake County won the 4-A team championship. Northwest Guilford captured the title in 2005 and Pinecrest in ’08.