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On the front nine Tuesday, Decatur’s Drew Jones pulled within a stroke of first-round leader Tanner Napier and looked to be on his way to challenging for the Class 3A championship.
But as the six-and-a-half-hour round wore on, Jones’ touch on the lightning-fast windblown greens slipped away until he sank a birdie on the 36th hole to finish at 9-over 81. The Decatur sophomore carded a two-round total of 156 to tie for fifth at the 3A University Interscholastic League golf championships at the Wolfdancer Golf Course at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop.
“Later in the day it was tougher,” Jones explained. “The greens were faster and the fairways were faster. Everything got tougher.
“The first round, I felt I could make a few putts. The end of the second round I felt like I had no chance to make anything within 15 feet. It was just one of those days.”
Napier was able to grind through the back nine to post a 78 that followed his first-round 71. The Paris product tied Andrews’ G.K. Morrison for the top spot at 149. Morrison then beat Napier in a one-hole playoff to claim the 3A individual championship.
Andrews also claimed the team title with a 638.
Liberty Hills’s Blake Elliott finished third with a 152, and Andrews’ Casey Fowler was fourth at 153. Jones, who took ninth at state as a freshman, tied Carthage’s Wade Davis, Argyle’s Lance Roden and El Campo’s Collin Quinn for fifth.
“I’m getting closer,” Jones said.
The Decatur sophomore provided the tournament highlight in the first-round, acing the 153-yard par-3 sixth hole.
“It was a fancy hole-in-one,” Jones said. “I tried to hit on top of this hill because everything feeds to the hole. I got the right amount of spin and it came back. I didn’t see it go in. I just heard everyone yell.”
Jones went on to post a 3-over round to put him four shots off the lead.
After a birdie on the par-5 fifth hole to get back to even in the second round, Jones appeared on the verge of making a charge.
Then back on the sixth hole, Jones double-bogeyed with a four-putt. He got a stroke back with a birdie on seven, but had bogeys on eight and nine. He posted a 40 on the front nine.
Jones had three straight bogeys to open the back nine. He said he thought he had a chance to contend until that “bogey streak” around the turn.
“A lot of it was in my head,” he said. “You live and learn.”
The slow pace of the round didn’t help. The final group had to wait throughout the round. The front nine took more than three hours to complete. After starting the round at 1:20 p.m., the group didn’t finish until 7:50.
“I hate waiting. It’s tough to play when you’re waiting on every hole and every shot,” Jones said. “You sit there and start getting tight again. I wasn’t hitting it well so that didn’t help.”
Jones also was battling a bug during the round. The day after the tournament, he was diagnosed with strep throat.