It’s been a nice little stretch late in the season for Dr. Phillips junior Zack Justice.
Justice placed first as an individual at the West Metro Conference Tournament on Oct. 8, shooting one-under par 71, and followed up that performance with a two-under par 70 at the Class 3A District 7 Tournament on Oct. 14 to take the top spot. In both tournaments, Justice edged some talented golfers, such as Ocoee’s Mahindra Lutchman, who placed second at the West Metro with a 72, and other standout players from programs such as West Orange and Olympia.
At the regional tournament this week, Justice shot a one-under par 71 to help lead the Panthers to a second place finish. That means Justice and his teammates have advanced to the FHSAA Class 3A Boys State Tournament, scheduled for Nov. 4 to 5, at Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares.
Looking ahead to the state tournament, Justice said he would try to duplicate his approach from the past few weeks — and, hopefully, the success, also.
“I really didn’t go into (those events) expecting to win,” Justice said. “I just kind of went in there and played my game. I’m just going to go out (at regionals and state) and see what happens.”
The talented junior said he definitely has felt more comfortable on the links over the past few weeks, an improvement he attributes to work he has put in with Panthers coach Jordan Black.
“I’ve been working with my coach a little bit … I’m just feeling comfortable out there, so the scores are coming pretty easy for me,” Justice said. “I’ve been working hard with my coach on putting and just getting a feel for it — if the putts fall, the good score will come.”
The breakout junior season that Justice is having is also a byproduct of experience. Justice believes he benefitted greatly from playing in the state tournament a season ago as a sophomore.
“Making (the state tournament) last year ... helped me see where all these highly competitive players are,” Justice said. “Just getting a feel for playing in these kind of events.”
Dr. Phillips has been playing well recently. The Panthers won the West Metro Championship and placed second at the district tournament. Justice expressed optimism that he and his teammates will be able to keep on rolling in the coming weeks.
“Our team is looking solid,” he said. “We’ve got five guys who all can shoot decent scores.”