Dazen photo

St. Augustine Prep junior Cody Dazen will compete today in the season-ending Tournament of Champions, along with other top golfers from throughout the region and state. The tournament tees off at 11 a.m. at Hopewell Valley Golf Club.

Staff photo Edward Lea

St. Augustine Prep golfer Cody Dazen already has won twice this season.

The junior hopes today will be his third trip to the top of a tournament leaderboard.

Dazen is part of an area contingent of players heading north to play in the season-ending Tournament of Champions at Hopewell Valley Golf Club.

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The tournament to crown state group and individual champs begins at 11 a.m.

“I think I’m pretty much ready to go,” said Dazen, who played a practice round at the club on Saturday. “We’ll see what comes out.

“I know what I need to do with my putter and my swing and my short game. It’s not a mystery. I think it’s just going to be a matter of me setting myself up, taking my time and doing the things that I need to do.”

Dazen won the Cape-Atlantic League Individual title on May 1 and followed that two days later with the Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Tournament title.

“I don’t want to set a number in my head of what I have to shoot,” Dazen said. “It’s just going to be doing everything to the best of my ability. I know there is going to be some good competition. We’ll see what happens and hopefully I’ll come out on top.”

Dazen qualified for the TOC with a fourth-place finish at the South Non-Public A Tournament.

Middle Township freshman David Hicks won the South-Central Group II title as the Panthers, the No. 3 team in The Press Elite 11, won their third straight sectional title.

Middle finished two strokes back of Rumson in state Group II last season as David older brother, Alex, won the individual title in a playoff.

“It’s going to be fun to see the really good competition that there is and to see some of the best players in the state,” David Hicks said. “To be able to play in the state tournament with then should be fun to see how it works out.”

The Panthers finished eighth overall last season.

Hicks, senior captain James Kelly and juniors Kevin O’Donnell and John Longstreet all have the potential to post low scores today.

The Panthers didn’t get the chance to play a practice round at the course but don’t seem too worried.

“I think we’ll be okay,” Hicks said. “We just have to be smart and make sure we take a little extra time to look at each shot more carefully.

“We’re trying to reach the potential we know the four of us have. We all have the ability to shoot a solid score that can compete in our group level and hopefully the state level.”

Mainland Regional’s Colin Roche finished tied for second as the Mustangs placed second in South-Central Group III.

Mainland finished in the top five at the Garden State Cup and the Galloway Challenge and has the ability to compete for the state Group III title.

Absegami’s Chris Filling also earned his TOC spot as an individual as he tied for fifth in South-Central Group IV.

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