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Ex-FHS golf champs cut SEC teeth on Tennessee National
Thornton of MSU ties for 27th at SEC tourney; Brodd 33rd for Ole Miss

They were back home, sort of, playing almost within Tiger Woods driving distance of the high school where they helped produce two Class AAA high school state golf championships. Erika Thornton and Jillian Brodd, freshmen Southeastern Conference golfers at rival schools after great success as Farragut High School teammates, struggled at times with hazardous bunkers and fast greens at relatively new Tennessee National in Loudon last weekend.

However, “I think it’s a great course,” said Thornton of Mississippi State, whose 74 Sunday helped her tie for 27th (233) during the three day SEC Tournament April 18-20. “I love fast greens, and they’re pretty fast. I felt comfortable on the greens. If you can just stay away from pot bunkers, the course is pretty fair.”

As for Brodd, a freshman at Ole Miss who finished at 236 (79, 78, 79), tying for 33rd, “I actually love this course” despite having played Tennessee National just once before the SEC Tournament. “The greens are great, it’s set up well. It’s a good challenge.”

Two Thornton birdies on the front nine Sunday helped the 19-year-old MSU freshman shoot her best round of the tournament. She added one birdie on the back nine. “Overall I played solid today.”

The former Farragut standout overcame a 9 on No. 10 hole Saturday, finishing with an 82.

Thornton, also Class AAA individual state champion in 2006 at FHS, had only played Tennessee National twice before the tournament. “It’s still not enough knowledge to know where to hit it on the green,” she said.

Assessing her freshman year, Thornton said, “I think it went well, but of course not as well I’d like to play. I think I put too much pressure on myself sometimes. Overall, I’m happy with the way I finished.”

Alongside Brodd, who was among Thornton’s playing threesome in the first round of the tournament, “that was pretty awkward and ironic,” Thornton said. “But we had fun, we’re good friends even though we’re rivals. It was fun getting to see her again.”

Brodd said her 54-hole 236 “Wasn’t what I wanted, but for my first S-E-C Tournament I thought I did fairly well.”

Brodd said she had to “battle through” Tennessee National bunkers. “These bunkers out here are really hard, and sometimes when you get in ’em you get a big number on a hole. Stay calm and shoot for the middle of the green, and hopefully you make putts.”

Brodd said her first major college season has featured “some ups and downs, but I think for the most part it’s gone really well.”

The 18-year-old Lady Rebel, who has alternated between the team’s No. 2 or No. 3 player, said better competition at the major college level “makes me play better.”

Brodd labeled the trip back to the Knox County area “a good homecoming” and said she shared notes with Thornton.

“We were just asking each other about how our years went and how our freshmen years were going,” Brodd said.

“It seems like she’s doing really well, and that’s awesome.”

“And I’m doing well, too.”


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