David Kocher said he had a golf club in his hand as soon as he could walk, but baseball was his main sport growing up.That changed when he was 12.“All of a sudden it was like, ‘I’m better at golf than I am at baseball, so why not switch?’ ” Kocher said. He stopped playing baseball that year and dedicated himself to golf.It seems like the 5-foot-11 Charlotte Christian senior made the right decision.Kocher, a Maryland signee, is a two-time All-N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association all-state player and a three-time all-conference selection: twice at Christian and once as a freshman at Providence High. He finished second at the 2012 NCISAA state tournament and fifth at last year’s tournament. Last season, Kocher helped the Knights to their first state tournament appearance in eight years. Charlotte Christian finished tied for seventh.“He’s a senior and he’s also the best player on the team,” said third-year head coach Mike Nedrow. “He leads through shooting good scores and by just being a good kid.” Kocher, 17, will be key in leading the Knights back to the state tournament.Nedrow said this is the deepest team he’s had at Christian. The Knights return Thomas Hodges, Aaron Walker, Zach Griffiths and Gavin Owen from last year’s top six.Kocher said he thinks the team can go eight or nine deep this season with the addition of freshmen Chris Ford, Rhodes Karriker and Conner Armisted, and out-of-state transfers Hunter Hughes, a senior, and sophomore Duncan Graham. “We have at least eight or nine really solid players that we can count on every time for a score,” Kocher said. “Last year we probably had six guys that would start every match, and every once in a while you’d kind of get a high score thrown in there, which isn’t a good mix for winning states and conference.” The Charlotte Christian golf team practices Tuesdays and Thursdays during the spring season at Cedarwood Country Club. Kocher practices across Pineville-Matthews Road at Raintree Country Club nearly every other day of the year. He hits the putting green first, where he works on what he considers his biggest weakness. Then he’ll work on chipping before moving to the driving range.Ball striking is his strength, he said. “My dad (John) tells me all the time that’s by far the best part of my game,” Kocher said. “I hit it to 15 feet every time, it feels like. Just have a hard time making putts sometimes.” Nedrow said he is impressed by Kocher’s course management. “It’s a physical thing to a point, but with these kids it’s really more of a mental thing,” he said. “Some kids just really know how to get the ball in the hole, and David is one of those guys.” Kocher played about 10 three- or four-day junior tournaments over the summer, spending long stretches away from home. He was named first-team all-state by Tarheel Youth Golf Association in 2013. TYGA ranks Kocher No. 7 in the state among more than 400 junior golfers. Most recently, he was named All-American and Player of the Year at the Winternational Junior Series at Pinehurst. Teammate Hodges also was named All-American.Kocher said he doesn’t model himself after professional golfers, instead trying to keep up with and beat the top junior golfers he plays with.He said he likes Tiger Woods and is inspired by Jordan Speith, who at 20 won a PGA Tour event last season and was named Rookie of the Year.“He’s someone I look up to just because he’s so young and he made it out on the PGA Tour, so why can’t I?” he said. “Why can’t that be me?”
Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
Senior Kocher will lead a deeper Charlotte Christian boys’ golf team
Five golfers to watch
• Hunter Oxford, Ardrey Kell, Sr. – 6-foot. No. 17 ranked golfer in the state was the 2012 conference player of the year.
• Aaron Walker, Charlotte Christian, Jr. – 5-foot-9. Was named all-conference last season after shooting a 71 at the conference tournament.
• Luke Thalman, Myers Park, Jr. – 5-foot-10. Finished seventh at the 4A state tournament. His Mustang team finished second, losing in a playoff to Southern Pines Pinecrest.
• Henry Shimp, Myers Park, Soph. – 6-foot-2. Finished second at the 4A West Regional tournament last season after a four-way playoff.
• Connor Bosek, Charlotte Latin, Sr. – 5-foot-10. Four-year varsity starter was named all-conference last season.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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