East Chapel Hill senior Ben Griffin can join rare company this spring if he can win his third N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A golf championship. Griffin won as a freshman, was 10th as a sophomore and won again last year.
The only other golfers to win three NCHSAA 4A titles are Chuck Merriam of South Mecklenburg (1963, 1964 and 1965) and Brendan Todd of Green Hope (2000, 2002 and 2003).
It's a huge goal of mine to pull off another win this year in the 4A State Championships, Griffin said. To join a current PGA Tour player like Brendan Todd with the record of three 4A state titles would be awesome.
The University of North Carolina recruit won in 2011 at Pinehurst No. 6 as a freshman. Last spring, he shot a 9-under 135 over two days at the Pinehurst No. 8 Centennial Golf Course to claim his second title.
Winning the state championships by nine strokes definitely helped me with my confidence heading into summer events, said Griffin, who carded a first round 11-under 61 in the Dogwood Amateur Invitational in Atlanta and the next week won the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Lancaster, Pa.
Southern Pines Pinecrest beat Charlotte Myers Park in a playoff last year for the NCHSAA 4A team title, breaking a string of four straight titles by Wake County teams.
Teams to watch
Athens Drive: All-conference sophomore Eric Bae and senior Kevin Campbell return to the Jaguars, who gave Green Hope a run at the conference title. The two teams were tied entering the conference tournament.
Green Hope: The 11-time defending conference champion Falcons return senior Mike Siek and sophomore Kevin Wiles.
Broughton: Broughton returns its entire starting lineup, including individual champion Stephen Saleeby, two-time all-conference selections Will Minton, Preyer Fountain and Harrison Rhoades (third in NCHSAA championship in 2012) and all-conference pick Court Settle.
We have one of the best teams in the state, said coach Anderson Marlowe. I have very high expectations for the year as a team and on individual levels. Eight of the players helped Broughton win the state champion in 2012.
Corinth Holders: The Pirates won the Mideast 2A regional and finished fifth in the state championships. The Pirates will be led by Nick Routhier, who was fifth in the state finals, as they move to 3A.
Durham Academy: The Cavaliers return five of their top eight from a 12-4 club. Junior Dylan Lukes is a four-time all-conference selection. Junior Will Beischer was all-conference in 2014 and freshman Allen Smith and Quade Lukes are expected to be among the leagues best.
Holly Springs: The Hawks finished third in its conference in 2013 but returns five of its top six from a year ago including seniors Tim Conover, who was runner-up for conference golfer of the year, and Jacob Smith
Riverside: Was sixth in the 4A championship last season, but lost seven of top 10 and five of top six. Senior Junior Schrickx was all-conference and freshman Campbell Rand is reigning Croasdaile Country Club junior champ.
Millbrook: UNC-Wilmington recruit Thomas Eldridge leads a club that was second in the Cap-8. Juniors Stephen Franken and Adam Gross also return.
West Johnston: Won the Greater Neuse River Conference title for the first time in school history.
Ravenscroft: Ravens freshman Ryan Gerard was runner-up in the conference in 2013. Juniors John Landers and Zachary Chapman are two-time all-conference picks.
Golfers to watch
Neville Burton, Wake Forest, Sr.: Finished seventh in 4A championships in 2013 after finishing tied for 10th as a sophomore. Burton is one of six Cougar veterans.
Kaleb Lester, Carrboro, Sr.: 2A runner-up for the ninth-place 2A team.
Alex Molgaard, Harnett Central, Sr: Molgaard was second in the Greater Neuse River Conference player of the year race in 2013. Sophomore Zach Freeman is pushing him for the No. 1 playing spot.
Scott Pechacek, Cary Christian, Jr.: Finished fourth in the NCISAA 2A championship.
Patrick Stephenson, South Johnston, Soph.: Was 3A East regional runner-up.
Jarred Lisec, Cleveland, Sr.: Conference runner-up last year.
Nick Page, Triton, Soph.: Finished No. 3 in conference play in 2013.
Justin Smith, Knightdale, Sr.: Was fourth in Greater Neuse in 2013.
W.E. Warnock: 919-932-8743