Gibson County senior Mason Chandler has come close in each of the last two seasons to earning a trip to the Class A-AA state tournament, but that goal has eluded him.
Chandler showed on Thursday he is more determined than ever to make that goal a reality. He shot a 1-under 71 at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Invitational at Jackson Country Club to earn the individual title.
Chandler beat South Side senior River Scoggins by one stroke to win the tournament.
“This is a big tournament, and if I was going to shoot well early, I wanted it to be here,” Chandler said. “This win makes me want to keep playing at this level all season.
“I have worked more this past summer on my game than I have all four years of high school.”
Chandler had four birdies in his round of 18 holes, and he was happy with the consistency he played with all day.
“I hope I can keep playing just like this all season,” he said. “This is right where I want to be at.”
Down the stretch, Chandler sank the putts necessary to keep his score low.
“I was hitting the ball straight all day, and on the last five holes, that gave me four- to five-foot putts that I hit,” Chandler said.
USJ lost its No. 1 and No. 2 golfers from last season in Chase Harris and Ray Howard along with Matthew Teel, but this year’s team proved to still be a tough team, as the Bruins posted a 318 to win the tournament by 12 strokes over South Fulton.
Junior Ryan Davis led the team with a 4-over 76, while sophomore Grayson Kirk shot a 6-over 78 to lead USJ. Drake Norris shot an 80 and Holden Kirk an 84 to round out the team score.
“We lost two key players, but coming out and winning this tournament is big,” Davis said. “This was our first goal this season.”
Grayson Kirk was a freshman last year who was still learning his role on the varsity team, but those days are long gone as he plays a vital part in USJ’s success.
“I knew that I had to come out and do well in this tournament,” he said. “I played my game and tried to do my part to help my team.”
Davis has stepped right into the No. 1 spot, and he played like it through all 18 holes.
“I was hitting the ball good all day,” he said. “My putting wasn’t there on the front nine, but it got better on the back nine.”
Grayson Kirk also said that he was hitting the ball solid on Thursday.
“I was hitting fairways all round, and I hit some putts that helped me keep my score down,” he said.
For a team that finished second in the Division II-A state tournament last year, the Bruins still have their sights set on getting back.
“Getting back to state is still our main goal,” Davis said.
Michael Odom, 425-9754