Spartanburg, S.C. – With the start of the 2014-15 season two months away, USC Upstate head women's golf coach Todd Lawton has announced the signing of two student-athletes who will begin their Spartan careers this fall.
Lawton signed Texas high school standout Sidney Dermody and North Carolina prep standout Payton Culler to national letters of intent. Culler is the younger sister of former men's golf standout and program pioneer Baxter Culler.
"Sidney is a talented player and great student leader," said Lawton. "She has performed well at the highest tournament levels and is energetic and motivated. I know that she will contribute to our growth on and off the course."
Dermody was a three-year member of the varsity squad at Sonora High School in Sonora, Texas, and just closed out her senior season after leading the Lady Broncos to the team championship at the 2A state tournament. She finished fifth while leading the team to a 667 total and the win by 68 shots. It was her second straight fifth-place showing in the 2A state tournament, helping lead Sonora to a second-place finish her junior year. As a sophomore, she helped lead the Lady Broncos to the state title in 2012. Overall, she helped lead Sonora to two state championships and one runner-up finish in her three years. She was the medalist at the 2013 District 5-2A Championship with back-to-back rounds of 75 and won the region championship after posting a 2-under 70 in the final round to win the title by four strokes at Ratliff Ranch in Odessa, Texas. She was the medalist at the Fort Stockton High School Invitational at Desert Pines Country Club, opening with a 76 and finishing with a 74 to erase a five-stroke deficit and claim the title on the third playoff hole.
Dermody averaged 78 for her high school career and was a three-time all-state, all-region and all-conference selection. She helped lead Sonora to three consecutive conference and region championships, claiming medalist honors at the 2013 regional championship and 2013 District 5-2A tournament.
Dermody has also excelled on the junior golf circuit. She claimed three Top 10 finishes in four junior tournaments in 2012-13, claiming third at the nationally-ranked TJGT Hyatt Hill Country Junior Championship, seventh at the Texas Junior Masters/Texas Junior World Qualifier with a final round 72 and tied for seventh at the Slick Rock Junior Championship. She also finished fourth at the Canyon Springs Junior Championship earlier this year and 10th at the Traditions Spring Break Invitational at Texas A&M. In addition to her standout play on the golf course, she has also been an exceptional student. She is a member of the National Honor Society, earned the Principal's Excellence Award, was a member of the Student Council and carried a 3.89 GPA. She also lettered in volleyball and was a varsity cheerleader for two years. She also was named Miss Sutton County and participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Culler was a four-year letterwinner at West Henderson High School in Hendersonville, N.C., and played in the No. 1 position for the last three years. She was named the co-Western North Carolina Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was the 3A Western Regional champion as a senior. She finished ninth at the 3A state tournament. She averaged 72.6 for the year and earned all-state and all-Western North Carolina honors. She led her team to the 3A Western Regional title. She was also an all-state selection as a junior in 2012 and earned Western North Carolina Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors after posting a 72.8 stroke average. She helped lead West Henderson to a second-place finish in the 3A state tournament, finishing sixth individually with a final round 76, which was the lowest round of the day.
Culler has also spent plenty of time playing junior golf tournaments. She played in eight tournaments in 2013, claiming two Top 20 finishes and four Top 30 efforts. She was 17th out of 70 players at the Pinehurst North/South Junior Championship, posting round of 72, 74 and 78, and 19th at the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour Players Championship. She had a pair of 12th-place finishes in tournaments in 2012. She has also been a standout student in the classroom, carrying a 4.3 GPA. She was the Class Secretary and was a member of the yearbook staff.
Culler will follow in the footsteps of her older brother, Baxter, at Upstate. Baxter was a mainstay in the lineup from 2005-09 and helped lead the 2007 squad to a second-place finish at the Division II National Championships. He ranks second all-time at Upstate with 17 Top 10 finishes and 10 Top 5 efforts. He won two individual tournament titles, including medalist honors at the 2007 Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
"Payton has been a top performer in North Carolina high school golf and has a balanced game that is strong in nearly every area," said Lawton. "She is as solid in the classroom as she is on the course and I am looking forward to her continuing the Culler-legacy at Upstate."