mcj-2019-08-07-sports-nett-golf-3c

Nettleton's golf duo of junior Sarah Raper and senior Riley Mayhew finished second at state last season, but are aiming for first next year.

Nettleton’s golf duo of Riley Mayhew and Sarah Raper have plenty to be excited about as their summer wraps up.

Mayhew, the five-time state champion and incoming senior, just recently committed to Anderson College, while Raper, her junior teammate, finished as the points champion and won five events on the Coke Tour.

Mayhew said her connection with Anderson University, which is a Christian based university in Greenville, South Carolina, happened by a recruiting app that she uses.

“It’s an app where you look up colleges, and you also have a profile, and they can look at you,” Mayhew said. “I honestly accidentally favorited Anderson, and they emailed me and got to talking to me. Within two weeks, they asked me to go on a visit there. They came and watched me play at the Bubba, and I guess that really set things up.”

Despite it being seven hours away, Mayhew said as soon as she went on her visit, she felt like it was home. She plans on signing with Anderson in November.

“I knew the moment I stepped on campus that it felt like home and that I absolutely fell in love with the coaches and the way they carried themselves and just the hospitality,” she said. “It’s kind of far away, especially for me being from Mississippi. Whenever I got there, I guess I loved it so much that I kind of forgot how far it was.”

Raper just wrapped up her summer on the Coke Tour last week in the final events in Starkville.

“I had one event where I messed up a little bit, but I placed in all of them,” Raper said. “I haven’t played in any other bigger tournaments except the Junior State Am with Riley, and that was a good experience for me. It was longer yardages than I am used to.”

For Mayhew, the highlight of her summer was winning the Junior State Am on July 24 in Tunica. She shot a 71 the first day, a 76 the second day and a 78 on the final day, winning by over 20 strokes.

“I didn’t really play that well the last day, but the second day was really windy. It was like knocking you over,” Mayhew said. “I don’t have much going on the rest of the summer. I’m going to play in a couple of scrambles just for fun, then I have a tournament in September.”

The two had a successful 2019 season, either finishing first or second during every match in the regular season. They won every event until the state championship.

“I think winning every event in the regular season and us finishing first or second individually, and it definitely shows our hard work pays off,” Mayhew said. “It makes us want to go out there and practice more.”

Raper said she feels like she has grown as a golfer in the last few seasons.

“Last year, I didn’t do as well because I was more nervous,” she said. “I have changed in my mind game now and became mentally stronger.”

Mayhew agreed with Raper and credited their practice routine with helping both improve.

“We have been practicing every day, even in the winter if it’s not freezing cold, and then we go practice in indoor pro golf in Tupelo,” Mayhew said. “We’re out there every day, especially in the summer, even if it’s raining. Sarah has gotten better, not just as a golfer in the talent aspect, but mentally too.”

The two have a close bond, not just as teammates but also as friends, and Raper said Mayhew’s help has been invaluable.

“I couldn’t have done it without her. Being able to practice with someone as good as her and play with her, it really helps me a lot,” Raper said. “The fact that we’re so close, and she’s like a sister to me, that’s really helped me a lot too. I don’t know what I will do without her when she goes to college.”

The duo finished second as a team in the state championships, but both are confident they can go out with a first place finish next spring.

“We’re going to practice harder, and we know we’re going to have a comeback and finish out undefeated the full year,” Raper said.

Mayhew will also be going for her sixth straight championship as an individual.

“I want to obviously win my sixth straight, but I also want to score better,” Mayhew said. “I shot 68 or 70 this past year, and I want to shoot even better than that next year.”

Raper set at least finishing in the top three at state as her goal and is looking ahead to her future after high school as well.

“I do want to play after high school, but I’m not exactly sure where,” she said. “There are different places that I have thought about, and wherever I get an offer from, I will look into it.”

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