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Taylor Banks’ personal best round of golf was more than enough for a repeat Lancaster Golf Club championship Sunday afternoon.
Banks’ 36-hole 135, including a club championship record round of 64, gave him a eight-shot win to post his second straight Lancaster Golf Club championship.
Banks, down four shots entering the final round of the annual LGC’s championship tournament, responded with an eight-under 64 (32-32) to win going away. Prior to Banks’ final round 64, his personal best at the LGC was a 66.
Skip Small, a club championship tournament veteran, was the runner-up with a solid one-under 143 (70-73).
Lancaster High School senior golfer Dalton Bradley’s five-under 67 Saturday had him four strokes up on Banks, the former Buford High School and University of South Carolina Lancaster star golfer.
“I was confident,” said Banks, who left for Francis Marion University in Florence following the two-day tournament to continue his college golf career. “Dalton was tough Saturday, so I knew I had to really step it up to have a chance to repeat. I knew what I had to do to give myself a chance.”
Banks, with a plus-two handicap, soared in the final 18 holes with a blazing eight-under showing of an eagle, eight birdies, seven pars and, just to show he was human – two bogies.
He wasted little time in taking the lead, carding a birdie on No. 6, a par four, while Bradley had a par. From there, Banks steadily pulled away.
“Taylor just got into a zone,” Bradley said of Banks. “I would have had to have another 67 today to win. Taylor played that well.”
Bradley finished with an even par 144 (67-77).
Save the two bogies, one at No. 13 and the other on No. 17, Banks, who won the 2010 club championship in much closer fashion with a one-shot victory, was stellar.
“I was striking the ball well, the best I have ever hit it,” said Banks, 20. “That was a key, but you also have to be patient. You can’t get in a rush in this game, If you do, it just speeds up disaster.”
Banks’ patience proved vital on No. 11, a par four, which he noted was his key hole Sunday.
He was too strong on his birdie putt, rolling the ball some 10 feet by the hole. He saved par with his 10-footer.
“I got a little distracted on my first putt and pushed the ball by the hole,” Banks said. “I handled a little adversity to recover for a par. That gave me some confidence for the rest of the round.”
In the final nine holes, Banks tallied four birdies, two pars, an eagle (No. 16) and the pair of bogies.
“Taylor’s effort today was as solid a round of golf as I’ve ever seen,” said Small. “He stayed out of trouble and made every putt he looked at. Taylor was hitting fairways and greens.”
When Banks experienced trouble, he was quick to recover. After the No. 13 bogey, he ensued with birdies on No. 14 and 15 and his eagle at No. 16, a par five.
“I had a good drive on 16 and then a feathered five iron for a 10-foot putt dead on,” Banks said of his No. 16 eagle.
“He kept making birdies, like a birdie machine,” Skip Small said. “It was fun to watch. I’ve watched Taylor play as a kid, and to see him play like that today made you feel proud.”
Banks’ 64 was a shot shy of the course record set twice by the late Doc Catoe.
“While I was out there playing with that foursome, they were very encouraging,” Banks said. “Golf is tough enough, but they could see what I was doing and they were supportive. They competed and it just got me going.”
Banks garnered his share of the club championship spotlight, but other golfers also earned titles.
Lane Small, Skip Small’s younger brother, won the championship first flight with a 159 (80-79). Larry Snyder was second with a 163 (81-82).
In the seniors flight, 50 and over, Danny Reynolds prevailed with a 144 (73-71). Mike Roddey was second with a 152 (75-77), with James Haire third at 154 (78-76).
Bob Thompson, in the super seniors flight – age 65 and over, won with a 141 (68-73), and Larry Westcott was second with a 145 (70-75).
Still, the day belonged to Banks.
“It feels awesome to go back-to-back,” Banks said. “To repeat is an honor because it doesn’t happen often. It really feels good.”
Club pro Phil Small, a former club champion, had a greater superlative.
“That’s a remarkable round,” said Phil Small of Banks’ effort. “To shoot 64 with two bogies and the greens playing slow due to the heat is superb. Anybody who has ever won the club championship will tell you to win it once is tough, but to repeat and do it the way Taylor did, it’s phenomenal.”