Byrd's got the belt: Yellow Jackets claim golf crown

Byrd's got the belt: Yellow Jackets claim golf crown

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Byrd's got the belt: Yellow Jackets claim golf crown

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Don’t be surprised if you see Shreveport’s PGA Tour star David Toms shopping for a new belt around town Wednesday. Tuesday, he lost one from his collection for good.

The belt proved to be magical for the Byrd golf team.

Yellow Jackets sophomore Jared Sipes – and Toms’ belt – emerged as unsung heroes Tuesday at East Ridge Country Club. Sipes recovered from a first-round 81 and posted a 74 to help Byrd rally to win the LHSAA Division I state tournament.

The championship is Byrd’s first since 1997, when current head coach Casey Martin played in purple and gold.

“I’m just very proud,” Martin said. “They showed a lot of guts.”

Sipes, who arrived at last week’s regional event beltless, was given an assist to keep his shorts up by the father of teammate Carter Toms.

“I had a yellow belt, but it didn’t match this shirt,” Sipes said. “I played regionals and shot 75.”

Monday, Sipes played without the belt. He didn’t make that mistake Tuesday.

“Oh, I’m keeping the belt for sure,” said Sipes, who sported a gigantic smile while he clutched the oversized team hardware in the fairway behind Byrd’s freshman phenom Philip Barbaree Jr., who was involved in a playoff for the individual title.

Barbaree drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the second hole to defeat St. Paul’s Thomas Ruli. The duo finished regulation at 4-over 146.

Following routine pars on the first extra hole, Barbaree hooked his tee shot at No. 2 and was headed for the trees and an out-of-bounds area. His Titleist struck a limb and ricocheted into the fairway.

“I was so lucky,” Barbaree said. “I can’t believe it happened.”

Byrd stormed from third place in the team competition to win by seven strokes over St. Paul’s. Catholic of Baton Rouge was third, eight off the pace.

“It’s great for Byrd,” Barbaree said. “I was so happy for my team, regardless of what I did (in the playoff).”

Barbaree’s closing 71 and Sipes put Byrd in position for the comeback. Jeffrey Berry, Carter Toms and Henry O’Brien brought things home. Toms shook off a second straight rough to start to post an 80.

“I felt like I owed it to my team to hang in there,” he said. “I gave up a little bit yesterday, so I definitely didn’t want to do that to them again.”

Thanks to another domination performance from Calvary, there was no such drama in Division III.

Sam Burns used another back-nine rally to cap his third straight state championship. Burns’ second-straight 67 completed an 8-under 134 tournament total, good enough for an eight-stroke victory against teammate Nathan Jeansonne (69-73).

Calvary, who the team portion of the event by 45 strokes after Day 1, cruised to a 59-shot victory (592 strokes) to collect its fifth consecutive state championship.

Parkview Baptist (651) finished as the runner-up, while University High grabbed third at 659.

Catholic-New Iberia’s Micah Goulas picked up the third-place medal in the individual race at 147.

Like Monday’s opening round, Burns had trouble finding momentum early, but a birdie at No. 5 setup an eagle at No. 7.

“That really got me going,” said Burns, who birdied 14, 15 and 16 again Tuesday.

Even though Burns has a U.S. Open qualifier to look forward to next week, and a host of top-level junior and amateur events, high school golf – and his Calvary teammates — holds a special place in this 17-year-old’s heart.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Burns said. “Pretty awesome.”

Jeansonne collected his second straight runner-up finish to Burns, a fellow LSU commit, but was nothing but smiles after another team title.

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