Eagle leads to state title for St. Al’s Smith

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2003

St. Aloysius eighth-grader Chase Smith watches his short putt fall in for a birdie on the first playoff hole of the Class 1A state championship. Below, Will Sobecki uses body english to try to get his putt to break during the second round of the state tournament. (C. Todd ShermanThe Vicksburg Post)

[05/08/03] Chase Smith flew to the first state championship of his short high school career on wings of an eagle.

The St. Aloysius eighth-grader hit an amazing eagle on the par-4 17th at Vicksburg Country Club Wednesday, then won on the first playoff hole to beat Union’s Jonathan Winstead.

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“It was a punch pitching wedge, and I thought it was too far at first,” Smith said of his eagle two shots under par for a hole. “People walking down the hill stopped and told me it went in. I’d have never thought it would have went in.”

Both Smith and Winstead, a junior, parred No. 18 to both finish at 5-over. Smith shot a 70 on Wednesday after struggling to a 75 on Tuesday. Winstead connected for a 71 on Wednesday and a 74 on Tuesday.

On the first playoff hole, Winstead hooked his shot into a water hazard, something Smith did on Tuesday.

“I’d been cutting my driver all day, and all of the sudden I just wanted to pound one down the middle,” said Winstead, who also finished second in the state last year. “I came over the top of it and hooked it into the hazard.”

Smith, meanwhile, drove the right side of the fairway, then pitched to within two feet of the hole. Winstead, after having already been charged a penalty stroke, took two more shots to reach the green.

Smith tapped in for the win.

“That eagle gave him a lot of momentum,” Winstead said. “It helped him out a lot. He played really strong today.”

Smith took fifth in the state last year and trailed throughout the contest. Cathedral’s Mark Carter, who was the leader at 2-over coming into the day, shot a 77 and finished four strokes back.

West Union won the team championship at 636. Cathedral finished second at 641, and the Flashes took third at 649.

St. Aloysius last won the golf state championship six years ago, the last time country club hosted the event.