Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2007

class above everyone else’|[07/30/07]

Greg Clement said of Sunday’s final round of the Warren County Championship that if it were a prize fight, it would have been called early.

Two-time defending champion Mike Hurley said if there was a similar rule to baseball’s 10-run mercy rule, the tournament would have been over on No. 13.

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Any sports analogy would have worked at Clear Creek Golf Course as Chase Smith set the bar for all future county championships.

The 18-year-old defending Class 1A state high school champion, shot a blistering two-day 133 for a 13 shot victory over Hurley. Clement finished third, 17 strokes behind the winner.

Smith’s 13-stroke margin of victory is believed to be the largest in tournament history and his two-day 133 is believed to be the lowest two-day total in tournament history. He also is the youngest player ever to win the championship.

&#8220He shoots long and straight and had a great short game,” said Clement, who played in the final group with Smith, Hurley and Matt Hossley. &#8220That is tough to beat.”

Smith entered Sunday’s final round with a four-stroke lead over Hurley. Smith shot a 65 on Saturday, a round that included five birdies, an eagle and no bogeys.

He went the first 33 holes without a bogey until he got to the par-5 16th. Smith overshot the green on his second shot with a 6-iron. The ball rested behind the green on a downhill slope with a green that dropped from back to front.

&#8220The only bogey I hit all tournament was on a hole that I easily should have birdied,” Smith said. &#8220I wasn’t worried at all about bogeying 16, I was worried about 17.”

After the lone blemish of the tournament, Smith went back-to-back pars to put the final touch on a victory many will be talking about at Clear Creek for many years.

&#8220It’s just pretty to watch,” said Clement, who entered Sunday’s round nine shots off the lead. &#8220I saw him miss maybe one shot today. He could have easily shot another 65. He didn’t birdie 1 or 9 and had a bogey on 16. Those are three par 5s that he could have birdied.”

Smith held par on the first six holes, then began a stretch that put the match away. He birdied No. 7, which included his longest birdie putt of the tournament. He then birdied No. 8, parred No. 9 and birdied the first three holes on the back nine.

After his third birdie, Hurley made his baseball mercy rule comment and the rest of the tournament was spent trying for second.

Asked when he thought the battle for second started, Clement quipped, &#8220when I pulled into the parking lot this morning.”

Smith won three individual state titles in five years at St. Aloysius. He signed a National Letter of Intent to play golf at Delta State and will enroll on Aug. 12.

He’ll still be a Warren County resident, though, which means he likely will be there next August to defend his championship.

&#8220Chase is just in a class above everyone else right now,” Hurley said. &#8220He is a great up-and-coming golfer.”