For the first time in six years, there will be a representative from Hillsborough in the 3A State Women’s Golf Tournament.
On Tuesday, Orange senior Samantha Durham qualified for the state championships after a solid finish in the Central Regional at Greensboro National Golf Course. It was the second time in five months that Samantha played in the regionals.
Samantha Durham will become the first competitor in the 3A State Women’s Golf Tournament for Orange since Amanda Hill, who reached the state tournament in 2015. To say the competition that year was stiff would be an understatement. The winner of the tournament was Chapel Hill’s Gina Kim, who has gone on to win a national championship with the Duke women’s golf team and currently is in the process of qualifying for a LPGA Tour card.
The 3A State Championship is a two-day event that starts on Monday at Foxtrot Resort and Golf in Pinehurst. It will continue on Tuesday.
Golf runs deep in the Durham family. Samatha’s younger sister, Sarah, also qualified for the Central Regionals for the third year in a row. They both competed in the regionals last May. On most Sunday mornings, Sarah Durham can be found on the driving range at Occoneechee Golf Course in Hillsborough, the official golf course of the Orange and Cedar Ridge men’s and women’s golf teams.
It’s one of the favorite courses of the Durham sisters.
“It’s a good course,” Samantha said. “It’s nice and open. There’s not a lot of water. So I personally like it and it’s close.”
Reaching the state tournament is a fitting final accomplishment for Samantha Durham. When she started at Orange, golf it became more than just something she did every now and then.
“We started playing when we were younger,” said Samantha. “Our father played and our brother played so it was just a family activity. We started taking lesson and last year we started taking it a little more seriously. That’s when we started playing more in school and playing in more tournaments.”
Things would get competitive among members of the Durham family.
“We always want the best for each other,” Samantha said. “I definitely want Sarah to win tournaments. She’s always rooting for me and I’m always rooting for her.”
Samantha and Sarah aren’t the only members of the Durham family to represent Hillsborough in high school golf. Their brother, Matthew, qualified for the regional and state tournaments as a student at Cedar Ridge. Last spring, Matthew Durham graduated from Campbell University and has served internships with the Professional Golfers’ Association in Oakmont, PA and Ootwah, TN in the hopes of becoming a golf pro. He also served as a tournament director for several events at Campbell.
As any golfer will tell you, golf is all about routine. Samantha, who was recently honored during senior day at Occoneechee, says it’s not easy to maintain focus.
“You need good course practice,” Samantha said. “Then when you’re on the golf course, you’re thinking the same things. It’s just ‘stroke, keep your head down, good contact with the ball.’ Every time you swing your club, you just want to make good contact and get it to the hole.”
High Point Central’s Emma Niebauer won the Central Regional championship shooting an even-par, 72. Emily Matthew of Eastern Alamance, the Central Carolina Conference champion, came in second with a 74, 2-over for the afternoon.
Cedar Ridge’s Olivia Aitkin also qualified for the Central Regionals. Aitkin, who recently committed to play softball at Amherst College in Massachusetts, is a three-sport athlete at Cedar Ridge. She seems in the winter, along with playing centerfield for Allan Byrd’s softball team.