Maysville Country Club played tough for prep golfers converging for the Mason County/St. Patrick Invitational on Saturday.
With one of the hotter days temperature-wise over the past few weeks and tee boxes set at the tips of the course, only two golfers were able to walk away under par on the day. The two that were, Grant County’s Tyler Mitts and Elliott County’s Gage Evans, needed two extra holes to decide a winner after firing 1-under 71’s.
After the two sunk pressure-packed par putts from about six to eight feet out on the first playoff hole at the Par 3, No. 13, Mitts was able to take home the individual title after a birdie on the Par 5, No. 1, sinking a five-footer after a beauty of an approach to win it.
Scott County took home the team title with a score of 300, having four golfers post sub-80 scores and beating out Grant County by seven strokes.
The host Royals finished fifth as a team, firing a 328 led by Mason Butler’s 76. This was their fifth tournament of the season and the first one finishing outside the top three.
The Royals opened the season hot, posting a second, second, first and third-place finish in the first week of the season, doing so with a junior, sophomore and three freshman.
On Saturday, they hit a bit of a bump in the road as Butler was the lone Royal to crack 80.
“The 328 is still not bad out here. It beats last year’s score. This course is a little bit tougher for our kids. It’s not our home course really and it’s a lot longer,” Royals coach Chad Mefford said. “But still we’re on a good path, we finished first, second or third in our first four tournaments and like I said earlier, we’re a little bit further along than I thought we were.”
Butler was in good shape after nine holes, coming in at 1-under par.
“I felt good. I was putting good. I had a few more looks at birdies and some of them just didn’t fall unfortunately,” Butler said.
But the freshman hit a bit of a bogey skid starting on the back nine with four straight to bump him up to 3-over par after 13 holes. He’d regroup on No. 14 with a birdie and then recorded three straight pars on 15, 16 and 17 to stay within striking distance of the leaders, a couple of strokes off with a hole to play.
He found some trouble on 18 after his tee shot found the fairway, but went right into the rough on his approach and ended up with a double-bogey to finish his day with the 76.
“Starting off with four straight bogeys on the back, I was trying to just make a birdie or a par to get going. It finally happened, but I ended up with a double-bogey on 18 to end up my round. It was an alright day, but I felt like I could have shot about 70,” Butler said. “My drives were good, I just had a lot of downhill putts today and couldn’t knock them down.”
Following Butler on the Royals was sophomore Evan Schumacher, firing an 82 and finishing 10-over. Kaden Grooms ended with an 84, Spencer Magee an 86 and Logan Shepherd an 87.
“These kids play every day. We’ve had a couple kids improve quite a bit. Logan Shepherd, Kaden Grooms, Evan Schumacher had a decent day today, proud of him today,” Mefford said. “Low 80’s and one in the mid 70’s today is nothing to hang our head about.”
The Royals had 12 players play in the tournament. Other scores were Zack Ring with an 85, Quin Grooms a 94, JD Shepherd a 102, Grant Owens a 107, Westin Messer a 115, Chase Walton a 117 and Joseph Hazlett a 131.
Mason County will continue their busy stretch to start the season on Monday with the Ashland Invitational at Bellefonte Country Club.
Lewis County placed seventh as a team with a 352. Logan Liles led the Lions with a 74, finishing as the top coverage area player on the day. His two-over earned him a tie for fifth in the individual scoring.
The Lions were pretty balanced in their top three as Cameron Ruckel tied for eighth with a four-over 76 and Austin Ruggles finished top 20 with an eight-over 80. Mark Sparks finished with a score of 122 for the Lions four scores on the day.
“Our top three played great. This was the first tournament that Mark had ever played and this is a tough golf course, it gets you in a lot of trouble really easy,” Lions coach Jim Draper said. “I told him it’s not going to be pretty, but our goal is to get it acceptable by the end of the year. If you take scores what we had here and Mark gets around 90, we’ll be competitive in the region. That’s what we’re trying to do and what we’ll do.”
Liles may have ended with a fifth-place finish, but the freshman started the year off with a bang, already winning two tournaments in the opening week.
“I don’t know if you could ask for much more as a freshman. If he’s not playing somewhere at a high level in a few years, it’s because he chooses to,” Draper said.
Ruckel’s 76 was a season best so far and the same can be said with Ruggles.
“We left a few shots on the course, but overall I’m very gratified with how we played today,” Draper said.
The Lions will continue on Monday at the Ashland Invitational.
Augusta, Fleming County and Bracken County also had players in the tournament playing as individuals. Fleming County’s Logan Hughes was the top finisher out of that bunch with an 83. Augusta’s Sam Appelman finished with an 87, Fleming County’s Hunter High and Samuel Johnson had a 98 and 104, respectively and Bracken County’s Kuper Teegarden finished with a 136.
Full team and individual scores are also available online at maysville-online.com/sports.