Chastain helps power LaGrange to second place finish at Granger Shootout

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

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The 2024 Granger Shootout golf tournament was another sweeping success as 16 teams descended on The Fields on Tuesday for an action-packed day. It was a change of venue for the tournament and the first time The Fields has hosted a high school tournament to rave reviews from those involved.

“I thought the course played hard but fair,” LaGrange coach Ben Thrasher said. “One reason we wanted to play there is because it’s a place where neighboring schools and kids can come back and play any time.

“It was a great way to showcase the course and get our guys out there to play.”

The course was kind to the Grangers, who finished second overall, 11 strokes behind tournament winners Newnan and four strokes ahead of third-place East Coweta.

“We set a benchmark team score of 315 which needs to be our goal every time we play. Yesterday, we eclipsed that benchmark and shot 311. And it really, truly could have been and should have been lower than that,” Thrasher said.

On an individual level, LaGrange was led by star sophomore Saxon Chastain. He finished second in the tournament with a 71. It was a strong showing for Chastain, despite the fact that he double-bogeyed the final hole to lose out on a chance to finish in the 60s.

“He has this uncanny ability to flip a switch and make things happen. And it’s kind of what separates him from other guys. Like he doesn’t hit the ball and kind of hope, it goes where he wants it to go.,” Thrasher said. “Unfortunately, on the last hole, it just didn’t go where he wanted it to go, and he ended up going from two under to even.”

Through four tournaments, Chastain is averaging a remarkable 72.4 strokes and was the lone member of LaGrange who was named to the All-Tournament team on Tuesday.

This is one of the most talented and deep teams that LaGrange has fielded in a number of years. The Grangers have had multiple players play in tournaments for the varsity team that were not part of the five-man lineup on Tuesday.

“We have about 17-18 guys, and they support each other tremendously and we had five or six guys out there yesterday that weren’t playing, but we’re helping out in any way possible,” Thrasher said. “We had a guy play at Callaway Gardens last Saturday and another at our first tournament this year that were not part of the lineup yesterday, and that’s a testament to how competitive this group of guys is.”

Chastain was not the only Granger to shoot in the 70s on Tuesday. Senior Ty Ormsby shot a 78, and Thrasher has been impressed with him now that he has focused fully on golf instead of splitting time with soccer like in years past.

“I can’t say enough about his demeanor, his attitude, his outlook,” Thrasher said. “It’s almost like he’s a different person. He’s more reliable for us as coaches and as a teammate.”

Hugh Kersey and Ben Woodham both had solid showings at the Granger Shootout as each shot an 81. Thrasher believes this is not even close to the best from two of his top players.

“I feel like both of those guys can consistently shoot in the 70s, and I think if we could go and look back that they missed a few shots that they normally make,” Thrasher said.

This year’s LaGrange team is a collection of individuals who do not have an individualistic mindset. It is a team-first approach from the Grangers.

“We’ve got a good group of guys that like each other and like being around each other and helping each other out,” Thrasher said.

LaGrange was not the only local school that participated in the Grangers Shootout as Troup was also on hand. The Tigers finished in 16th place with McCarty Harrison leading the team with a 93. Drew Pearson shot a 105, but the rest of the lineup struggled for Troup.

LaGrange will be back at Highland Country Club on Monday for an 18-hole six-man showdown with Harris County.

“They beat us by five strokes a few weeks ago at the Camden Classic, and they are coming off of a top-three finish in the state last year in 5A so we are excited about the challenge of facing a really good team over 18 holes,” Thrasher said.