Chastain finishes as low medalist to help LaGrange to runner-up finish at area tournament

Published 9:15 am Friday, April 28, 2023

The LaGrange boys golf team earned a spot at state with a runner-up finish in the Area 1-4AAA tournament on Tuesday.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have and left some shots out there,” LaGrange coach Ben Thrasher said. “With the conditions the way they are, I was pleased with how they performed.”

The conditions were far from ideal with pouring rain and wind, and at one point the horn rang on the course signaling that the golfers had to return to the clubhouse for a weather delay. 

The teams finally got back on the course as the Grangers combined to score 322 — just four strokes behind area champions and reigning 5A state champions Starr’s Mill. While LaGrange fell just short of capturing a region title, the team will be making back-to-back appearances in the state tournament after missing the playoffs the previous five years.

“Last year, it was more about enjoying the moment and getting the experience,” Thrasher said. “This year it is more about how we perform. We just lost to the reigning 5A champions by four strokes, we feel confident that we can compete against good teams.”

It was a complete team performance for the Grangers, but freshman Saxon Chastain stole the show by putting together a clutch performance to earn low medalist. Heading to the 18th tee, Chastain was tied at 2-over with Will Sutton of Starr’s Mill. 

“Their tee shots were a foot away from each other and Saxon stuck it within eight feet, and the other guy missed the green,” Thrasher said. “That just showed you the championship caliber player he is as just a freshman.”

The young Granger kept his cool and delivered in the clutch, coming away with a birdie on 18 while Sutton bogeyed to give Chastain a two stroke victory.

“I knew what was at stake (heading up the 18th tee), and I just stuck to the game plan that I had all day,” Chastain said. “I wasn’t even trying to get that close to the hole. I was looking to get it near the center of the green and two putt.”

It was a strong showing for Chastain, who faltered a bit after the rain caused a delay coming down the home stretch of the back nine. First hole back, he double bogeyed but was able to rally and finish as low medalist at a tournament for the second time this week after his strong showing at the Jim Hickman Memorial tournament earlier this week. 

“He understands tournament golf,” Thrasher said. “He came out yesterday and lost a match play with Ben (Woodham) and as soon as he was done he said that he would be fine tomorrow. He knows how to get mentally prepare for tournaments.”

Chastain was outstanding, but the Grangers had other impressive performances in their lineup. Baseball player Grady Westmoreland spends more time on the diamond than the greens during this time of the year, but put together one of his better performances of the season by scoring a 79 (7-over) which led him to finish tied for fourth out of 43 golfers, just one stroke back from a top-3 finish. 

“I was really proud of Grady coming out here and shooting a 79 after shooting an 89 earlier this week at a tournament,” Thrasher said. “He even said he missed five or six putts inside of six feet which you don’t want to see, but he was hitting the ball well.”

Ben Woodham and Hugh Kersey both finished in the top 10 with an 84 and 86, respectively. Ty Ormsby shot a 90 which was good for 15th while freshman Charlie Pitts shot a 98 to finish 23rd. Pitts is one of the players that epitomizes the progress the team has made as a whole this season.

“At the beginning of the season, he was probably no. 12 or 13 on the team, but he ended up being the sixth golfer for us at the area tournament this week,” Thrasher said. 

The Grangers will compete in the state tournament in late May. 

“We have to show up and play our game,” Chastain said. “I think our best is good enough to finish top 10 and maybe crack the top five.”