All-County Golf: Anderson follows Knaffle’s footsteps

Selecting the MyHorryNews All-County Girls Golfer of the Year should be easy when there’s a three-time team state champion, two-time individual state medalist and 2017 S.C. Golfer of the Year in the mix. But what if she was the second-best player on her team in 2018?

That’s why it only seemed right to award St. James High freshman Adrian Anderson with the title over senior teammate and University of South Carolina signee Smith Knaffle. She credits her elder teammate for helping her and the program.

“Having Smith on the team pushes me to play harder and do my best,” she said. “She is a very good golfer and she helps me and the team get better. She encourages all of us to do our best.”

Having two stars has been a nice dilemma for Lady Sharks coach Denise Noll, who has built a state power at St. James.

“It is really cool to see Smith move on to the next level just as Adrian really steps up to take over the number one place on the team,” Noll said. “It’s like a golf fairy tale. One legend moves on as another takes her place.”

But Anderson’s play wasn’t exactly a Cinderella story. She helped the Lady Sharks to Class 4A state titles in her freshman and sophomore seasons, then took her game to the next level in 2018 with a third-place individual finish in the Class 5A tournament.

“I was a little surprised because of Smith and all the other great teams and players in the field,” Anderson said. “But I also knew that I had been working hard and playing well all season.”

Noll agrees: “Adrian is a special individual. Her golf game is steady and strong, and she really heats up when competing in big events with her team. I think (it’s) just the beginning of her great accomplishments. It’s her time, and she’s ready.”

Knaffle joins Anderson on the all-county first team following a successful high school and junior golf career. Despite a turbulant season that saw local golfers miss a month of the season, Knaffle placed ninth in the state and helped the Lady Sharks place fourth as a team.

Carolina Forest also placed three golfers on the squad, led by eight-grader Mia Gray. She tied Knaffle for co-medalist honors in the Region 6-5A tournament and capped her season with a sixth-place showing in the state.

Myrtle Beach’s Taylor Pirttima made the first team after leading the Seahawks to a program-best fourth-place finish in the state.

Conway’s Lora Ledbetter also made the cut after she and fellow Lady Tigers Taylor Reaves marked the first time for Conway to send a pair of individuals to the state tourney.

ALL-COUNTY GIRLS GOLF TEAM

• Adrian Anderson, St. James

• Smith Knaffle, St. James

• Mia Gray, Carolina Forest

• Taylor Pirttima, Myrtle Beach

• Lora Ledbetter, Conway

Honorable Mention

• Alayna Fortenberry, Carolina Forest

• Victoria Callahan, Carolina Forest

• Joey Kirkman, Socastee

• Essie Rike, Myrtle Beach

• Cara Hilburn, North Myrtle Beach

•Rachael Wilkinson, Aynor

• Taylor Reaves, Conway

– Photo submitted

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