Golf: Eagles earn state return – Jones repeats as region champ

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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STATEBOUND – Decatur’s Drew Jones, Cade Lamirand, Bryce Elder, Mason Hudson and Hayden Bennett finished third at the 4A Region I tournament to earn a state spot. Messenger photo by Kristi Bennett

With the rain pouring down on the 18th green, Decatur’s Drew Jones lined up his par putt Tuesday afternoon.

“I was doing some math in my head. I was wanting birdie but I was able to get the par, which I hoped would be enough,” Jones said.

Jones’ par on the 384-yard par 4 No. 18 closed out his second straight Class 4A Region I individual title and the Decatur Eagles’ third-place finish in the team standings. The Eagles’ two-round total of 608 was two shots better than Graham and sends them to a second straight trip to the state tournament. It’s the program’s third state trip in four years.

“It’ll be fun. I’m really looking forward to going with this group,” said Jones, who is headed to the state tournament for the fourth time.

Monahans won the region title with a 604. Seminole was the runner-up with a 608 – five strokes ahead of Decatur.

The Eagles shot 311 Monday at Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock and were two stokes back of Monahans and Seminole. With several other teams lurking for the final state spot, Decatur posted a 302 in the second round Tuesday.

“It was all about grinding through it,” said Decatur coach Fernando Escobar. “I told them don’t worry about the last shot and just play the next. I knew it would be tough with Snyder, Monahans and Graham. Scores were really low today. I can’t tell you how proud of them I am.”

All five Monahans players posted rounds in the 70s on Tuesday. Four Seminole players finished with scores of 80 or below.

With the pressure on, four of Decatur’s five broke 78 in the second round.

Cade Lamirand shot a team-best 1-over 73 Tuesday to finish at 148. Decatur junior Hayden Bennett carded a career-best 77, cutting eight strokes over his score from Monday to get in at 162. Bennett finished a stroke back of Bryce Elder for the tournament. Elder followed an 83 in the opening round with a 78. Mason Hudson scored 89 and 84 for a 173.

“Hayden Bennett, Cade Lamirand and Bryce Elder were able to grind through the first day and came up big,” Escobar said.

Jones shared the enthusiasm for his teammates performances: “They played really well. I’m really proud of the guys. We all needed to shave some strokes. I didn’t come through, but they did.”

Jones put himself in position to defend his regional title Monday, battling the wind to shoot a tournament-best, 4-under par 68.

“The first day the wind was blowing,” Jones said.

Tuesday, the wind died down. Jones started the second round with a pair of birdies in the first seven holes and was 1-under through seven. He was even through 10 and ended up 2-over for the day.

“I didn’t hit it that great. I never got into a lot of trouble,” he said. “If I got a bogey, I was able to come back. The rain put me in some tough spots, but I was able to get up and down.”

Decatur will play in the 4A University Interscholastic League Championships April 25-26 at Onion Creek Club in Austin.

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