ALEXANDRIA — Tuesday wasn’t for the faint of heart out at A.J. Jolly Golf Course.
For starters, Highlands’ Justin Gabbard chipped in a shot on No. 18 to get to a playoff with Grant County’s Tyler Mitts to decide the individual 8th Region champion. Gabbard would later win the playoff as the two dueled it out for six holes.
Then it was a bit of anxiousness for a few, wondering if their score was good enough to qualify for the state tournament in Bowling Green. The Bluebirds and Braves left doubt out of their hands, qualifying as teams, the Bluebirds taking home the 8th Region title by 14 strokes with a team score of 293, the Braves in second with a 307.
But then the next best three individual scores also get a three-day trip to Bowling Green next week.
First it was Bishop Brossart’s Jerod Baynum, in the clubhouse with a one-over 73.
Then it was up in the air.
Mason County’s trio of Mason Butler, Evan Schumacher and Kaden Grooms shot 76, 77 and 78, respectively. At first, it was Butler and Schumacher looking for berths at state with the final two qualifying spots, still about 25 scores or so to report. Then it was the Bourbon County duo of Zack Stacy and Jake Wells coming in with a 76, shortly after Pendleton County’s Clay Monroe posted a 76 on the board. That bumped Schumacher from contention and set up a four-way playoff for two spots between Butler, Wells, Stacy and Monroe.
Butler double-bogeyed No. 18 to put himself in this spot as his tee shot went in the water.
“I hit 5-wood and just hooked it. My chip ended up running nine-foot past the hole for bogey and I ended up making double. I was mad, but you know it happened so you can’t do anything about it,” Butler said. “I tried to not think about anything, once I realized I was in a playoff I just needed to do what I do usually when I’m out at the course and don’t change anything.”
Butler would regain his composure, par the first playoff hole as did Wells and Monroe. Stacy’s birdie attempt lipped out and then he missed his par putt, eliminating him from the playoff, leaving three for two spots. Two advancing, one’s season coming to an end.
The second playoff hole started off nice for Butler, getting a friendly kick from the cart path and landing up further along the fairway, at least 20-30 yards clear of Monroe and Wells. His approach landed in the rough behind the green and his chip downhill still left him about six-foot for par. Meanwhile, Wells and Monroe had tap-ins for par.
But the nerves didn’t get to Butler as he calmly sank his par putt, Wells and Monroe doing the same, setting up a third playoff hole between the three.
“He showed a lot of guts there on the first two playoff holes. First hole had a few feet for par, the second he sunk one uphill to stay in it. He’s got a different mentality than most kids his age right now. Super proud to have a representative heading to state,” Royals coach Chad Mefford said.
All three ripped their drives on the third hole, Butler in the center of the fairway, Monroe to the right of him, Wells to the left. All three put their approach shots either on the green or the fringe.
Butler went first, lagging his putt within two-feet for a tap in for par. Wells then hit an errant chip past the hole and had about 12-feet for par, Monroe was in a similar spot with Butler, lagging his birdie putt short and about four-feet for par.
Wells would just miss his par putt, setting up a make and advance for Butler and Monroe.
Monroe sunk his par putt first, guaranteeing him a spot in the state tournament. Then it was Butler calmly sinking his par putt, as he did on the first two holes, advancing to the state tournament, leaving Wells as the odd man out.
Butler still wanted some more company with him though.
“I was hoping we’d get there as a team, but unfortunately we didn’t. We should be there next year since we got a few people graduating from different schools, but I’m looking forward to that,” Butler said.
With a Royals’ team that has a junior (Spencer Magee), sophomore (Schumacher) and three freshman (Butler, Grooms and Logan Shepherd) brighter days are ahead for the Royals, who finished in third-place with a team score of 316, nine shots off of second-place Grant County.
“We kind of knew where we stood. All season we were probably the third best team. It was a roller-coaster of a day. We had one in the playoff, third as a team and Evan and Kaden were a stroke or two off from playing in the playoffs,” Mefford said. “Proud of our kids from where we came from two years ago, had three kids shoot in the 70’s in conditions like today. We were right there with Grant County with about four to five holes to go. We’ll get there, we’re close.”
Magee would end his day with an 85, Shepherd an 86. It was a promising start for the Royals early on as Grooms sat at 1-over after nine, Schumacher at 2-over and Butler at 3-over. Even through about 14 holes as a group, the Royals were giving Grant County a scare for the second spot.
“We’re not only the third best team in the region, we’re a pretty good team in the state in general. You look at what Grant and Highlands have done throughout the state, both of them are dangerous and have a lot of firepower. Highlands was solid all day and shot under 300 twice now here. But we had Grant in our sights, three good teams. We’ve improved and I love where we’re headed,” Mefford said.
Highlands was just too strong, posting three of the top five scores, Luke Muller following Gabbard with a 71, Ryan Leigh with a 72. Grant County was in-between with the Mitts’ brothers, Tyler in second with a 70 and Ryan with a 72 to round out the top five. Baynum’s 73 was good for sixth while Butler, Monroe, Wells and Stacy all tied for seventh to round out the top 10 individually.
After Highlands, Grant and Mason, Bourbon County finished fourth with a 325, followed by Brossart fifth with a 328.
Pendleton County (349), Campbell County (352), Newport Central Catholic (362) finished sixth through eighth.
Fleming County finished ninth with a 375, led by Logan Hughes with an 83. His Panther counterparts, Hunter High, Samuel Johnson and Jaeren Wallingford shot a 90, 95 and 107, respectively.
Nicholas County and Harrison County shot 377 to tie for 10th.
Augusta’s team score was 447, finishing 12th. They were led by Sam Appelman’s 87. Following Appelman on Augusta was John Paul Cordle with a 108, Joseph Mains a 123 and Preston Philpot a 129.
Now Butler will head to state at Bowling Green Country Club. He’ll get a practice round on October 4, with the first round of the state tournament beginning on October 5. If he makes the cut after the first day, he’ll play in the final round on October 6.
“I’m going to work on my driver and my putting,” Butler said.
Tee times should be available later in the week.
Rank; School; Score
1. Highlands – 293
2. Grant County- 307
3. Mason County- 316
4. Bourbon County – 325
5. Bishop Brossart – 328
6. Pendleton County – 349
7. Campbell County – 352
8. Newport Central Catholic – 362
9. Fleming County – 375
t-10. Nicholas County – 377
t-10. Harrison County – 377
12. Augusta – 447
Rank; Name; School; Score
t-1. *Justin Gabbard, Highlands – 70 (won in playoff)
t-1. Tyler Mitts, Grant County – 70
3. Luke Muller, Highlands – 71
t-4. Ryan Mitts, Grant County – 72
t-4. Ryan Leigh, Highlands – 72
6. Jerod Baynum, Bishop Brossart – 73
t-7. Clay Monroe, Pendleton County – 76
t-7. Mason Butler, Mason County – 76
t-7. Zack Stacy, Bourbon County – 76
t-7. Jake Wells, Bourbon County – 76
11. Evan Schumacher, Mason County – 77
t-12. Kaden Grooms, Mason County – 78
t-12. Michael Geiman, Bishop Brossart – 78
t-12. Anthony Vascotto, Harrison County – 78
15. Noah Haubner, Campbell County – 79
t-16. Joel Craft, Highlands – 80
t-16. Luke Ziegler, Newport Central Catholic – 80
18. Korey Blake, Bourbon County – 81
t-19. Kyle Lewis, Grant County – 82
t-19. Tate Letcher, Nicholas County – 82
t-21. Logan Hughes, Fleming County – 83
t-21. Lucas Allnut, Grant County – 83
t-23. Spencer Magee, Mason County – 85
t-23. Tyler Kruetzkamp, Newport Central Catholic – 85
25. Logan Shepherd, Mason County – 86
t-26. Ethan Eilerman, Bishop Brossart – 87
t-26. Sam Appelman, Augusta – 87
28. Blake Steele, Pendleton County – 88
29. Tristan Mitchell, Harrison County – 89
t-30. Hunter High, Fleming County – 90
t-30. Adam Owens, Bishop Brossart – 90
t-30. Kyle Hart, Campbell County – 90
33. Calvin Bertram, Campbell County – 91
t-34. Noah Barnard, Pendleton County – 92
t-34. Hayden Baker, Bourbon County – 92
t-34. Noah Wirth, Campbell County – 92
t-34. Steven Grimme, Highlands – 92
t-38. Brice Redden, Pendleton County – 93
t-38. Bryce Spencer, Grant County – 93
t-38. Drew Wilson, Campbell County – 93
41. Logan Schuetz, Newport Central Catholic – 94
t-42. Samuel Johnson, Fleming County – 95
t-42. Jacob Vascotto, Harrison County – 95
44. Hunter Wells, Nicholas County – 96
45. Jackson Yazell, Nicholas County – 99
46. Drew Anderson, Nicholas County – 100
47. Jason Hunt, Nicholas County – 101
t-48. Johnny Powers, Newport Central Catholic – 103
t-48. Logan Butts, Newport Central Catholic – 103
t-48. Jaeren Wallingford, Fleming County – 107
t-48. Christian Blair, Bishop Brossart – 107
52. John Paul Cordle, Augusta – 108
53. Ian Boland, Harrison County – 115
54. Joseph Mains, Augusta – 123
55. Aiden Roberts, Bourbon County – 127
56. Preston Philpot, Augusta – 129
57. Adam Derico, Pendelton County – 148