When George Washington takes the course today in Lewisburg for the Class AAA Region 3 golf tournament, senior Will Evans will be on the hunt to get in the hunt for an individual state championship.
Evans shot a 154 and earned all-state honors at last year's tournament and enters 2012's postseason playing some of the best golf in the state.
"I didn't play my best game [at last year's state tournament], but I knew if I played well I would have a shot," Evans said. "This year I've made so many improvements. My putting and ball striking have gotten better and I've improved a lot."
GW coach B.J. Calabrese said he thinks his star senior has the ability to compete for an individual title this season.
"I really feel that realistically he's one of the top three players in the state," Calabrese said. "He played real well at the state tournament last year and he's certainly capable of [winning it]. He can put back-to-back days together and put himself in a position to win."
Evans, the son of Berry Hills club pro Barry Evans, played well through the spring and summer. He won the Top Flite Junior Tour event at Berry Hills during the summer and has been the top player for the Patriots all season. Calabrese said maintaining a high level of play from early in the calendar year through now is often difficult for young golfers, but Evans has handled it extremely well.
"You start playing in April and it's very difficult to maintain that level of consistency during that period of time. He's having an excellent senior season," Calabrese said. "He's averaging 35.6 [stokes] per nine holes and has been the medalist at all the major tournaments we played in addition to our regular season matches."
Calabrese praised Evans for more than just his individual play. The Patriots have a relatively young roster, and the GW coach said Evans has made it a point to help bring the underclassmen up to speed.
"One of the things that's really pleased me the most is not necessarily how he's played, but the leadership he's shown," Calabrese said. "Four of my top eight players are freshmen and sophomores, and Will has been so willing to take on that leadership role and help those young kids progress and learn about course management. He's really stepped up this year. He leads by example on the course, but the things he's done off the course with the younger kids have been amazing."
Evans said he has taken the time to play with the younger players to help them better understand a game that can take a lifetime to master.
"Our team is really deep and we have a lot of talent and good players," Evans said. "With some of them being young, they don't fully understand how to play golf sometimes."
GW's hopes rest higher than just an individual title for its top player - the Patriots want to make a run at the Class AAA team title. A year ago they finished tied for third place and Calabrese said his team has the depth to compete with the other tops teams from around West Virginia.