Yes, it might have looked strange seeing Vincent Hancock talking to himself on the golf course the past couple of weeks. This, however, was therapy for the La Plata junior.
Hancock kept telling himself he was better than the high scores he posted for much of this season, that eventually he would find his groove and play to his potential. He finally reached that point at the District 4 tournament Wednesday. Hancock won his first high school tournament carding an even-par 72 to win the event at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club and qualify for the Maryland 4A/3A tournament at the University of Maryland Golf Course on Oct. 25 and 27.
"You've just got to change your attitude," Hancock said. "You tell yourself that you're better than that. The last two weeks, my game really has gotten better. I had a poor regular season, so it was good to have a good tournament finally."
Hancock led La Plata, which easily won the team event with a score of 310, nine strokes ahead of Northern, even though many on the team felt they had an off day.
Senior Brent Martin finished second with a 2-over 74, and three Warriors each shot 10-over 82 -- sophomore Daniel Barnas and freshmen Cody Burch and Taylor Fuqua -- each of whom also earned bids to the state tournament.
"As a team, we could do a heck of a lot better than that, but we still looked great," Warriors Coach Mike Meiser said. "It was a big day for us."
Hancock said he had struggled with his drives for much of the season. But when he hit the fairways on each of the first three holes Wednesday, he felt a surge of confidence.
"He's been working on a lot of things, so I've always been watching out for Vinnie to come in low," Martin said. "He's got a great swing, a great head on his shoulders. It's like Phil Mickelson and finally winning a major this year."
With the opening of Huntingtown, District 4 now has 12 schools, which gives it a second automatic team berth in the state tournament. Northern took that spot.
Leonardtown's Ryan and Steve Sapp, Westlake's Robert Oxley and Kyle Kirby, and Patuxent's Andrew Wiley all qualified as individuals for the state tournament.
Even though La Plata won this event for the third consecutive year, the Warriors might enjoy this one the most. Since losing to Northern on Sept. 14, its first SMAC defeat since 2001, La Plata was bumped out of the favorite's role.
"The funny thing is, the past few years, we've been expected to win," Meiser said. "This year we weren't, and that makes it a little extra special."
The grudge match, so to speak, between La Plata and Northern will be Thursday in the SMAC Tournament, which will be held at White Plains Golf Course. That was where La Plata won the Charles County Tournament two weeks ago by shooting 306, 19 strokes clear of the field.
"It was real big for us to get back at Northern," Hancock said. "We tied it up, and now we've got to settle it at SMACs."