St. Xavier wins third straight state title

St. Xavier wins third straight state title

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St. Xavier wins third straight state title

Lyon County junior Cullan Brown takes individual crown

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Lyon County junior Cullan Brown takes individual crown

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The St. X golf team won its third straight state championship in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Saturday. From left, coach Patrick Sullivan and players Jay Kirchdorfer, Campbell Kremer, Clay Amlung, Will Fowler and Andrew Hinkebein. Photo by Jason Frakes/The Courier-Journal.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Five new players and a new head coach but the same ol’ dominant St. Xavier High School golf team.

The Tigers built a 13-shot lead after Friday’s first round and held on under much tougher conditions Saturday to win the Leachman Buick-GMC-Cadillac/KHSAA State Championships at Bowling Green Country Club.

St. X’s two-round total of 606 was well off last year’s record score of 557, but it was good enough for the Tigers to capture their third straight championship and 21st overall.

First-year coach Patrick Sullivan wasn’t surprised his roster of five new players was able to keep the streak alive.

“We knew once those guys left last year that the well wasn’t dry,” he said. “We had plenty of guys coming up through the ranks. It was an up-and-down year as far as who was in the lineup, but these guys proved true to be our five best. They earned it over these last two days.”

Greenwood was the runner-up, 11 shots behind St. X with a 617. Trinity (622) was third, followed by Ryle (624) and Taylor County (628).

Junior Cullan Brown became Lyon County’s first individual state champion with a 5-under total of 139 over two rounds. Greenwood freshman Canon Claycomb and St. X senior Clay Amlung tied for second at 142, and Christian Academy senior Hayden Zimmerer was fourth at 143.

Manual senior Robbie Keyes (148, tied for eighth) and Trinity sophomore Evan Bone (149, 10th) also finished in the top 10.

St. X’s team title was especially gratifying for Amlung, the only senior on a roster that also includes juniors Will Fowler (154, tied for 25th place), Andrew Hinkebein (155, tied for 27th) and Jay Kirchdorfer (156, tied for 32nd) and freshman Campbell Kremer (160, tied for 51st).

Amlung, who has committed to the University of Cincinnati, admitted the team felt pressure to continue the championship run.

“In the beginning of the year we had to prove that we’re still the best,” he said. “Through the year, I think we developed pretty well that we were the ones to beat.”

Trinity was second after Friday’s first round but dropped to third after a final-round score of 321. Greenwood had Saturday’s best round of 313 to pass Trinity for second place.

Shamrocks coach Mike Brumfield said his team struggled a bit with Saturday’s windy conditions and tougher pin placements.

“It was like going from Bowling Green Country Club on Friday to Shinnecock Hills today,” he said. “Yesterday was as easy as this course could play, and today was the exact opposite. …  If you had told me at the beginning of the year we were going finish third and have a chance to finish second, I probably would have taken it. You want to win, but I couldn’t be more proud of how hard they fought.”

Lyon County’s Brown was last year’s runner-up after losing a four-hole playoff to Franklin County’s C.J. Jones but said redemption wasn’t on his mind this year.

After carding a 66 on Friday, Brown had three bogeys on the front nine Saturday but answered with two birdies on the back nine to finish with a 1-over 73.

“All of Lyon County is behind me here,” said Brown, who has committed to the University of Kentucky. “I had 50 people following me today, and I love every one of them. They’re great. It’s a great tournament to win, but it’s not for me. It’s for them so that they get to enjoy it. And, of course, I’m going to enjoy it.”

Zimmerer held a one-shot lead after Brown bogeyed No. 9, but a wayward driver hurt Zimmerer on the back nine, where he made four bogeys. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 allowed Brown to pull away.

“My tee shots on the back just weren’t where they’re supposed to be,” Zimmerer said. “It was so much tougher today. Yesterday was perfect, 85 and no wind. Now it’s 75 and 20 mph and 30 mph winds. … I’ll go back to school and be pretty pleased with how everything went, even though I didn’t win.”

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.

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