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Staff file photo by Patrick MacCoon / Baylor golfer Sheldon McKnight has finished third in the state tournament the past two seasons. After a standout summer, he looks poised for a big junior season this fall.

One of the top high school golfers in the state is working to raise his game to the next level after consecutive third-place finishes at the TSSAA Division II-AA championship tournament.

Sheldon McKnight has been a force since joining Baylor School's prestigious program, proving himself as an integral part to the Red Raiders' dominant 2018 state title run.

As a sophomore last fall, McKnight had two eagles on his way to a 2-under-par finish at state.

"My strength has always been my driver," said McKnight, who is ranked third in the state by Junior Golf Scoreboard. "However, in the past I have never been super confident around the greens. Through practicing a lot more this summer I have figured out what works best with my game. I have learned some new things with the putter and chipping and it's been unbelievably better."

Perhaps the sport most unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, Tennessee's high school golf season will be the first to return to action. The first contest date will be Monday, July 27.

The improvements McKnight has made to his game have delivered a great deal of success during an eventful summer. Last week he shot 7 under over 36 holes at GreyStone Golf Club in Dickson to earn his second Sneds Masters Tour tournament championship in just more than a month's time.

While winning is always nice, McKnight believes a moment this summer where he had to battle great adversity at the Tennessee PGA Junior is a moment he will never forget.

"The first round there was a really hard day for reasons on and off the course," he said. "I remember telling my mom that I was going to bounce back. I was 6 over on the first tee, but I came back with a strong will power and shot 7 under on day two."

Since first picking up the sport in sixth grade, McKnight has shown a steady and strong work ethic on the links.

Starring for a program that has produced PGA Tour players such as Luke List (2003 Baylor graduate), Harris English ('07) and Stephan Jaeger ('08), McKnight has grinded on and off the course to help improve his future.

Baylor golf coach Gary Partrick has been a great influence along the way.

"Coach P has really helped me put an emphasis on school," McKnight said. "Hard work pays off, in the classroom or on the golf course. Ever since my grades have gotten better, my game has gotten better. Having to fight through things and grind pushes you to be better. Our program here at Baylor pushes you to be a better person, student and golfer."

Feeling as confident as ever in his game, McKnight has high hopes for himself and his team in the 2020 season which will once again finish at WillowBrook Golf Club in early October.

McKnight has learned from those who have come before him and looks to keep improving every time he goes out.

"In golf, you always have to be working, and you are always capable of a higher level," he said. "You never want to be satisfied or plateau in your game, because there is always someone better than you. I am excited about the season because I have improved my technique and added some consistency to my putting and chipping. I feel like I have made the game simpler for myself."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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Staff file photo by Patrick MacCoon / Baylor School golfer Sheldon McKnight is one of the top high school golfers in the state heading into his junior year.
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