October 11th, 2014

St. X claims state crown by 27 shots

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer


St. X claims state crown by 27 shots
The Tigers brought home the big trophy after being the runner-up the past two years / photo by Conor Revell

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Mission accomplished. After finishing as the state runner-up the past two years, St. Xavier is bringing home the winner’s trophy from the Leachman Buick-GMC-Cadillac/KHSAA Boys’ Golf State Championships after shooting a 586 Friday and Saturday at Bowling Green Country Club.

It’s the Tigers’ first state title since 2009 and 19th overall. West Jessamine’s two-year reign as state champion ended with an eighth-place finish.

“It’s maturity,” St. X head coach Dan Utley said about the difference between this year’s team and the previous two. “These kids know what they need to do when they get into uncomfortable situations and had that confidence knowing what to do in certain situations.”

Mike Sass and Billy Basham were the only two of St. X’s five juniors who played on both state runner- up teams.

“I don’t think there was any pressure,” Sass said. “Our team has had a pretty good year and we were on a hot streak. We had a lot of confidence coming in. We felt pretty comfortable to tell you the truth.”

The Tigers blew their completion out of the water, finishing 27 strokes ahead of second-place finishers Franklin County and McCracken County.

Trinity, playing in its first state tournament since 2007, came out strong and was in second midway through the first round. However, the Shamrocks fell back and finished with a 618 to finish fourth.

“We were playing great yesterday and then it started raining really bad,” Trinity head coach Mike Brumfield said. “We actually played pretty well through the rain and then this morning we had a really tough four holes. It’s tough starting out that early in the morning. But I’m proud of the guys, they hung tough the last four holes. It was just a tough go.”

Weather did affect the tournament. Rain halted Friday’s first round early, which forced several of the top teams to finish the last quarter of their rounds Saturday morning before playing the final round.  

“Weather isn’t the word,” Utley said. “It was about preparation. We plan for every situation possible. I told the guys we might play four holes today or we might play 26 holes. Whatever we have to do we just plan for and say, ‘Yes, sir.’ I wasn’t worried about the weather. We did play in extremely rough conditions yesterday, but today was like a sunny day.”

Allen Hamilton led the Tigers with a tie for third place. The junior shot a final-round 72 for two-day total of 1-under-par 143.

“He has been fun to watch,” Utley said. “Allen has made a huge move forward over the past 12 months. His mental game is strong and he drives the ball. He’s always in play and he gives himself chances. He has grown physically. He’s 6 foot 4 now. He has gone through a huge growth spurt and he’s still able to maintain that consistency. That’s the name of this game. Give yourself as many chances as you can.”

Hamilton — the younger brother of Sacred Heart star Maddie Hamilton, who has played on four state championship teams — started to make noise when he won the Sixth Region Tournament with a 6-under 66. Their father, Vince, helped St. X win the team state crown in 1981, giving the family six titles.

“There was definitely a little bit of pressure,” Hamilton said. “She (Maddie) just got her fourth this week in dramatic fashion. I knew that my team needed to win this year so that I could get at least half of the state titles that she has.”

Sass tied for 12th with a 149 after placing seventh as a freshman and 13th as a sophomore. Teammate Drew Kiehl also shot a 149.

Basham and Matt Liston each shot a 150 to tie for 18th.  

“We approached this year’s tournament differently,” Basham said. “We came in acting like we had already won and it worked out. We just had to play our game, which was just to keep your focus.”

Trinity’s program has come a long way since Brumfield took over in 2013. Two years ago, the Shamrocks placed seventh in the regional.

“I couldn’t ask for four better seniors,” Brumfield said. “Golf is secondary; they were friends. We joke, laugh and have a good time. The last three days has been stressful, but we still went bowling last night. The kids are great students and respectful. It has been the best two years I can imagine. They accepted me from the get-go.”

Trinity’s James Inman fired a 149 and finished in a tie for 12th after not making the cut as an individual at last year’s state tournament.

“Yesterday, before we had to stop, I felt that we all were doing pretty well,” Inman said. “I think the stoppage killed our mojo a little bit because we had to start again this morning and finish those last four holes. But I’m proud of the guys for what we have done through the years.”

Teammate Grant Hummel shot a 154 and tied for 34th.

Zach Mattingly had a 155 to finish in a tie for 38th and twin Jake Mattingly shot a 161 to tie for 60th in their final tournament.

“As freshmen we weren’t as good as we should have been,” Jake Mattingly said. “But we stepped up our game this year as seniors. We’ve gotten better overall as a program with more freshmen. That’s good and I think we are leaving the program in good shape.”

Ryan Murr, the only member of the Rocks state tourney group who’s not a senior, shot a 161 to tie for 60th as well.

“We should have five seniors next year,” Brumfield said. “Ryan is going to have to step up as a leader. The seniors were the leaders this year … Ryan has the game to do it, it’s just a work in progress and he just has to believe in himself. We’ll get it done, though.”

Owensboro Catholic’s John Augenstein was the low individual with a 138. Danville’s Spencer McKinney was second at 141.

 

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