St. Al’s Smith captures Class 1A crown|[5/11/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

For Chase Smith, it was one of his more unremarkable rounds at the Vicksburg Country Club.

But the St. Aloysius sophomore played steady enough golf to claim the medalist honor for the Class 1A state golf tournament on Wednesday.

Smith shot a three-over 75 to give him a two-round total of 149. It was two strokes better than Vardaman’s Justin Spratlin who finished at 151 after matching Smith’s second round 75.

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Natchez Cathedral had three golfers score 80 or better and with it took the team title over a five-team field with a combined score of 648. St. Aloysius was second, 31 strokes behind at 679.

The Flashes, though, were content to see Smith do enough to hold on for his second individual title in three years.

“It was a rough day. I tried to give it away,” said Smith, who also earned medalist honors in 2003. “I had to rescue myself at 15, I duffed it on 16. I had just three birdies the whole tournament and only one on the day. I just couldn’t figure out the greens.”

That may be a strange thought considering he grew up playing on the VCC course. Yet he did catch a big break on No. 17 when his drive headed toward the trees on the right side only to get a fortunate carom back into the fairway.

“Pure luck,” he said.

Smith wound up parring No. 17, his 10th of the round. It was enough to give him a three-stroke lead over Spratlin who bogeyed the hole.

On the par-3 18th, he fired his drive wide of the green, then ran his chip past the hole. Spratlin made a 6-foot par putt to increase the pressure, but Smith came back with a two-putt from 10 feet to close out the tournament.

Both players said the 16th was the key hole.

“He (Spratlin) was beating me, but on 16, he hit into the hazard while I was able to par it,” Smith said.

“I was having a good round until the 16th,” Spratlin said. “Then I hooked a three-wood into the woods. I had to punch it out and made a double-bogey.”

For the round, Spratlin made five birdies and two double-bogeys.

“I’m not crazy about this course, but I did chip in two birdies,” he said.

Catherdral’s Matthew Hall was third in the medalist race with a 153 (76-77), while Cathedral’s Jordan Farmer was fourth at 154 (79-75) and Calhoun City’s Will Black was fifth with 155 (78-77).

Farmer and Hall’s round along with a second round 80 from Jake Kaiser, was enough for the Green Wave to increase its nine-stroke margin after Tuesday into a dominating team win.

“Last year we lost to West Union by 10 strokes, but this time we were just more consistent,” said Hall, a junior. “We were a little shaky in the first round, but came out more focused today.”

Kaiser ended with a 169 while Mary Kate Byrne, who finished third at the first-ever state girls tournament at Clear Creek, helped her team with a 174.

“I had an 82 at Clear Creek, but this (VCC) is one tough course,” Byrne said.

The rest of St. Al’s team had a tough day, too. Don Marcus ended at 173 after an 89 in the second round. Walker Biedenharn improved by nine strokes over the second round to end at 175 (92-83), while John Reid Golding had a 185 (89-96).

“I thought we may have a chance coming out of the turn, but it went downhill on the back nine,” said St. Al coach Jim Taylor.

“Cathedral has a real strong team and they played exceptionally well.”

Desoto Central was third at 698. Defending team champ West Union was fourth at 704 and Union fifth at 719.