Sayre’s Hayden Adams had about an hour wait to see if his 5-under par 67 would hold up against some of the other best players on Kearney Hill Golf Links on Wednesday.
It held up well enough to force a playoff, which Adams promptly won with a two-putt birdie on the first playoff hole, Kearney’s 520-yard, par-5 18th, to claim the individual title of the high school Region 9 Boys’ Golf Championship.
“I was hitting it good and putted well,” Adams said of his round, which included an eagle at the par-5 third, five birdies and two bogeys. “Everything was just kind of going in.”
Madison Central’s Mason Hamrick birdied 18 in one of the final groups on the course to force the playoff, but he slightly overshot the same hole on his approach on the replay and had a difficult up-and-down to try to match Adams.
Still, Hamrick’s round helped Madison Central claim the team championship by seven strokes over Lexington Christian.
“I feel like all year, we haven’t been able to all shoot good scores and it finally clicked today,” Hamrick said. “It felt good. We shot a great score. It’s the best of the year. … I went to the playoff and lost, but that’s all right. I was still happy with how I played.”
Both Madison Central’s and Lexington Christian’s teams advanced to next week’s KHSAA State First Round Tournament at Winchester Country Club along with the top 10 individual players outside those teams, led by Adams. Teams and players from Regions 9-12 will be in Winchester battling for three team spots and 15 individual berths to play in the State Final Round at Bowling Green Country Club in two weeks.
Adams lost in a playoff on this same course to miss out on going to state his freshman year and won a playoff to go to state his sophomore year. So playoffs were nothing new to the Sayre senior, and he was ready.
“It’s not really all sunken in yet, but it’s going to be good times,” Adams said. “There’s more left. I’ve got next week with semi-state and then try to get to Bowling Green and do some stuff there.”
Indians go low
Madison Central Coach Kyle Congleton couldn’t remember his team ever shooting as low as 12-under par at a big tournament.
In addition to Hamrick’s 67, Madison Central got 68s from Clay Pendergrass and Warren Thomis and a 73 from Braydon Bond. Radney Bales’ 81 didn’t count toward the team total. Four of the five birdied 18 to finish.
“This is probably one of the most solid start-to-finish teams I’ve ever seen,” said Congleton, who has led the Indians for seven seasons, including last year’s region title winners. “I knew my guys had to step up and play. I was nervous, but I could tell by the way the guys were acting this morning when we got in the car and when they got over here … that they were ready to go.”
Lexington Christian tried to keep pace, posting a 33 by Luke Barrett and 35s by Grey Goff, Tanner Owens and McKean Collins on the outbound nine holes. Madison Central’s golfers posted three 34s and a 35 playing alongside them and golfers from Great Crossing and Frederick Douglass.
“We went out real aggressive on the front nine and had them go after a bunch of shots, so we could get out front and maybe scare some of the other ones,” LCA Coach Eric Geldhof said.
Barrett finished with a team-best 4-under par 68, one stroke off the leaders. Teammate Grey Goff joined him in red figures with a 2-under 70.
“It was tough most of the day. I was playing with Clay Pendergrass and we were going back and forth,” said Goff, who anchors LCA in the No. 1 spot. “I ended up making some more bogeys than him, but it was a good battle. Going to semi-state is a good feeling, and I think we’ve got good golf in our future, so I’m excited.”
LCA’s Tanner Owens and McKean Collins shot par and 1-over, respectively. Fifth golfer Jake Merryman carded an 83. LCA bested Frederick Douglass, the next closest team, by 16 shots.
“We played well. It is what we thought it would be. We had to stay as close as we could to Madison Central,” Geldhof said.
A long wait and a nervous putt
Sayre’s Adams teed off at 9:10 a.m. on No. 10, almost an hour ahead of Hamrick and on the opposite side of the course from the top teams.
Playing with Hamrick in the playoff reminded Adams of their younger days when they used to go at it. They both thought they hit good drives, Adams said, but each had long second shots uphill to the 18th green from the rough.
“My second shot got a little lucky. It took a couple of big hops and got on the green,” Adams said.
Playing from the back of the green down a slope to the left-center pin location, Adams left his first putt about 5 feet short.
“Once I was on the green, I just tried to two-putt. I knew he had a tough up and down,” Adams said. “The second putt, I was nervous, but I went through my routine and knew what I needed to do and got it to drop.”
Feeling good after back issue
Clark County’s Jacob Settles had to withdraw from last weekend’s All-State Championship due to back pain. Some physical therapy and extra rest did him good as he shot a 2-under 70 to finish seventh. Wednesday. He will get to play the next round on a home course in Winchester.
He felt no ill effects Wednesday.
“I hit it pretty solid and on the front I made some good par saves, so that really kept the round going,” he said.
Broken finger no problem
Lafayette’s Clay Noble had a two-week layoff due to a broken index finger. All he could do was putt in the interim. It paid off.
“I hit a bunch of good drives and I 24-putted, so it was a good day for putting,” Noble said.
For reference, having only 24 putts over 18 holes is borderline ridiculous. Noble had three birdies, two bogeys and the rest pars for his 1-under 71 to help him advance.
Strong finish for Bronco
After pushing his tee shot on the par-3 15th hole well right, Frederick Douglass’s Carl Space got a confidence-boosting up and down that buoyed him over the next three holes.
“My short game felt really good today,” Space said. “That kind of made me confident throughout the round.”
Space birdied 16 and 18 to push him under par with a 71. He’ll be joined in Winchester by teammate Charlie Allie, who shot a 73.
Rounding out the state field
The other individual qualifiers for state were Woodford County’s Bradford Lacefield (71), Lexington Catholic’s Charlie Spiller (72), Frankfort’s Garrett Wellman (73), Great Crossing’s Brady Parker (73) and Lexington Catholic’s JD Collins (74), who edged out Bryan Station’s Kyle Lewis (74) in a one-hole playoff for the final spot. Lewis will be an alternate if someone can’t play in Winchester.
Region 9 boys’ golf results
Top individuals: 1. Hayden Adams, Sayre 67*; 2. Mason Hamrick, Madison Central 67; 3. Warren Thomis, Madison Central 68**; 4. Clay Pendergrass, Madison Central 68**; 5. Luke Barrett, Lexington Christian 68**; 6. Grey Goff, Lexington Christian 70**; 7. Jacob Settles, Clark County 70**; 8. Bradford Lacefield, Woodford County 71**.
*won playoff. **place determined by scorecard tiebreaker.
Top teams: 1. Madison Central 276; 2. Lexington Christian 283; 3. Frederick Douglass 299; 4. Clark County 303; 5. Lexington Catholic 305; 6. Great Crossing 307; 7. Scott County 320; 8. Franklin County 327; T9. Frankfort 331; T9. Henry Clay 331.
Complete results online: bit.ly/3LxRiW1