• 86°

Thrilling finish in LaGrange tournament

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

After three days and 72 holes of golf, the championship of the LaGrange Toyota Granger Invitational still hadn’t been decided.

On Thursday and Friday, all the teams in the field participated in the stroke-play portion of the event at Callaway Gardens.

The format switched to match play on Saturday, with the top four teams in the two flights getting together at Highland Country Club for a semifinal round in the morning, followed by a championship showdown in the afternoon.

In the Blue flight, which featured the top teams from stroke play, it came down to a championship matchup between Johns Creek and North Oconee.

After the five individual matches had been completed, Johns Creek and North Oconee each had 2.5 points, so it came down to a one-hole playoff, with the number one players for both teams playing the par-4 18th hole.

After both players hit their tee shots into the woods, Deven Patel managed to scramble for a bogey, giving Johns Creek the championship.

When Patel’s bogey putt dropped to clinch the victory, his teammates charged onto the green to give him a celebratory shower with their water bottles.

Patel, who has signed with the University of Virginia, enjoyed sharing that moment with a group of teammates he enjoys being around.

Johns Creek, which won a state title in 2019, will be one of the favorites to win the Class AAAAAA state championship.

“Our team has good team chemistry,” Patel said. “We all know each other, and we all hang out together. I’m excited for these next couple of weeks. We have area coming up on Tuesday, and then state.”

Johns Creek finished the two days of stroke play with the best score to earn the top seed, while North Oconee was the number one seed.

In the semifinals, Johns Creek outlasted Starr’s Mill 3-2, and North Oconee beat Carrollton 3 ½-1 ½.

In a tightly-contested championship match, Johns Creek and North Oconee tied, setting up the one-hole playoff. First off the tee was Patel, who pulled his 3-wood into the woods.

“I normally don’t hit the 3-wood left, and I just hit a little cut off it,” Patel.

With a chance to take control of the hole, North Oconee’s Luke Koening instead yanked his drive into the woods as well.

While Patel was able to find his ball, Koening was not able to find his. Patel chipped back into the fairway, and Koening accepted a two-stroke penalty for losing his ball and hit a second tee shot that found the middle of the fairway.

Both players hit their next shots just short of the green, meaning it would come down to a chipping and putting contest.

After both players chipped onto the green, Patel was away, and he had an opportunity to clinch the victory with a make, and that’s what he did, with his ball settling into the bottom of the cup.

For Patel, the key shot on the hole was his second one where he navigated some obstacles to get the ball from the woods, and back onto the fairway.

“It was a tight pathway,” Patel said. “I had to get it above one tree, and get it below another tree.”

Patel, who like most high-school players rarely gets a chance to compete in match play, enjoyed the change of pace on Saturday.

“It’s such a different format,” Patel said. “Match play is something junior golf doesn’t have enough of, and high-school golf doesn’t have enough of, either.”

In the Silver flight, Etowah eased past Dalton 4-1 to capture the championship.

In the semifinals earlier on Saturday, Etowah beat Columbus 4-1, and Dalton topped Rome 4-1.

During the two days of stroke play, with the teams playing at the Callaway Gardens Mountain View and Lake View courses, Rome’s Hogan Ingram claimed low-medalist honors with scores of 69 and 68.

Johns Creek had the low score after two days with a 589, and North Oconee was one shot back at 590.

LaGrange had a team score of 728, with Ben Woodham leading the way with rounds of 85 and 87.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Hogan Ingram, Rome (137)

Wyatt Brackett, Dalton (141)

Jackson Buchanan, Buford (143)

Kyle Bachkosky, Starr’s Mill (145)

Eli Rogers, North Oconee (147)

Luke Pezold, Carrollton (147)

Renato Gerena, Starr’s Mill (147)

Bo Blanchard, Brookstone (147)

Frederick Chappell, North Oconee (147)

RESULTS

MATCH PLAY

BLUE FLIGHT

SEMIFINALS

Johns Creek 3, Starr’s Mill 2

North Oconee 3, Carrollton 2

FINALS

Johns Creek 3 ½, North Oconee 2 1/2

SILVER FLIGHT

SEMIFINALS

Dalton beats Rome 4-1

Etowah beats Columbus 4-1

FINALS

Etowah beats Dalton 4-1

STROKE PLAY

(Teams played the Callaway Gardens Mountain View course on Thursday, and the Lake View course on Friday)

BLUE FLIGHT

Johns Creek (284, 305) – 589

North Oconee (283, 307) – 590

Carrolton (293, 303) – 596

Brookstone (297, 304) – 601

Starr’s Mill (296, 313) – 609

Buford (295, 321) – 616

SILVER FLIGHT

Dalton (298, 311) – 609

Etowah (298, 314) – 612

Columbus (307, 326) – 633

Rome (323, 327) – 650

Newnan (334, 354) – 688

Monroe Area (362, 365) – 727

LaGrange (353, 375) – 728

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS

JOHNS CREEK

Deven Patel – 70-72-142

James Baker – 71-78-149

Taiki Miygi – 70-78-148

Jack Wright – 73-78-151

George Liu – 74-77-151

NORTH OCONEE

Luke Koenig – 72-77-149

Luke Jarvis – 69-79-148

Frederick Chappell – 73-74-147

Eli Rogers – 69-77-146

Ford Haynes – 84-80-184

CARROLLTON

Caleb Wall – 75-76-151

Luke Pezold – 71-76-147

Wyche Green – 72

Chael Sullivan – 78-85-163

Jacob Shadrix – 75-76-151

Luke Able – 75

BROOKSTONE

Bo Blanchard – 76-71-147

Pete Stansell – 73-76-149

Stewart Rustin – 81

Tripp Evans – 72-82-154

Hudson Holbrook – 76-85-159

Madden Dismuke – 75

STARR’S MILL

Kyle Banchkosky – 70-75-145

Renato Gerena – 74-73 – 147

Brendan Croft – 82-89-171

Houston Lawson – 76-83-159

Will Sutton – 76-82-158

BUFORD

Jackson Buchanan – 71-72-143

Walt Smith – 75-89-164

Sam Haynes – 74-79-153

Hunter Phillips – 75-82-157

Seth Haynes – 82

Aiden Anderson – 88

DALTON

Wyatt Brackett – 70-71-141

Ethan Day – 76-73-149

Landon Painter – 78-83-161

Camden Campbell – 76-86-162

Clay Walker – 76-84-160

ETOWAH

Noah Bauer – 67-76-143

Parker Bishop – 75-81-156

Zach Caputo – 105-102-207

MONROE AREA

Perry Austin Kilburn – 76-75-151

Eli Daugherty – 89-102-191

Tyler Wilhite – 98-92-190

Albert Brown – 99-103-202

Cody Peters – 107-96-203

LAGRANGE 

Tripp Hollstrom – 89

Ty Ormsby – 96-93-189

Jackson Dennis – 85-96-181

Ben Woodham – 85-87-172

Rivers Partin – 94-99

Jackson Everett – 100