WEST FRANKFORT — Hamilton County won its fourth straight boys golf title while Trico successfully defended its girls golf title at the Black Diamond Conference golf championships hosted by Franklin County Country Club Wednesday.
The boys championship was the tightest in years with only 16 strokes separating the top six finishers. Hamilton County (329) edged Fairfield (334) by five strokes followed by Trico (339), Eldorado (341), Goreville (345) and Carmi-White County (347).
“It was tough,” said Hamilton County coach Kim Vaughan. “There were a lot of good golfers out here today with Fairfield, Carmi and Eldorado putting up a good run.”
Individual champion junior Austyn Downen, who had won the title as a freshman, led the Foxes with a 75 followed by senior Cameron Gray (81), senior Kyle VanAbbema (86) and junior Austin Gray (87).
While on the girls side Trico beat second place finisher Eldorado by 19 strokes after needing a fifth-score tiebreaker to edge out Eldorado last year.
Leading the Lady Pioneers was senior Grace Coleman with a second place finish at 82 followed by fellow seniors Rachel Stein (91), Kara Bunselmeyer (92) and Blaire Reiman (103).
“No major surprises,” said Trico coach Michael Holcomb. “Grace came in about where we expected although Rachel and Kara were a little higher than their practice rounds, but overall we’re pretty pleased looking forward to next week in the regional tournament.”
The girls individual title was won by Hamilton County’s Kaylee Vaughan also with a 75. The win extended the freshman’s winning streak to open her high school career to 14. The Lady Foxes have one more match scheduled before heading to the Mt. Carmel Regional next week.
The girls began on the back nine and Vaughan opened with four straight pars. She finished the back nine with three bogeys over the final five holes to make the turn at three-over.
“I was really nervous coming in because I just played pretty bad at Carmi yesterday,” Vaughan said. “I had a few stinker shots – I shanked it three times – and putting was pretty rough, but I kept it pretty straight. Usually putting and short game is my strength, but today my short game was pretty bad. I didn’t start feeling good until there were five holes left.”
Vaughan continued to have issues suffering her fourth bogey on the first hole of the front nine, but got that stroke back with a birdie three holes later. She then made four straight pars before suffering her fifth bogey on the final hole.
In a trend that started last week at the SIRR girls golf championships when a three-hole playoff was needed to determine the Mississippi Division individual title and continued Tuesday at the SIRR boys golf championships when playoffs were needed to settle both the Mississippi and the Ohio Divisions titles the Black Diamond boys individual title came down to a playoff between Downen and Carmi-White County freshman Ty Barbre.
“I played pretty good,” Downen said. “I hit the ball pretty good, but I putted bad, real bad, it was horrible. Actually my best shot of the day was the one in the playoff. Going into the playoff all I was thinking was getting par. It feels good getting my second championship.”
During the regulation 18 holes, Downen bagged three birdies and suffered two bogeys on the first five holes and finished with three pars and a double bogey over the final four holes to make the turn with a one stroke lead over Barbre.
Barbre had a birdie and three bogeys on the front nine and pulled into a tie with Downen with a birdie on hole 10 and held a three-stroke lead with five holes remaining after Downen suffered a triple bogey on hole 12.
“I really had it going pretty good being even though the first seven holes before I had a rough stretch on eight and nine,” Barbre said. “I then birdied 10 and 13, but when I got to 15 I started struggling a bit and took a double.”
A double bogey on 15 by Barbre opened the door for Downen to make a run cutting his lead to two strokes when Downen also had a bogey on 15. Downen cut the lead to one with a birdie on 17 and then pulled into a tie when Barbre suffered a bogey on the final hole and Downen made par.
“On 17 I should have pulled the pin because the flag stick kind of kept the ball from going in the hole so I learned something today,” Barbre said. “On 18 I shoved my drive and got into the trees because I didn’t want to get into those left trees because that’s jail and I had somewhere to go on the other side. I punched out, but still had a bogey. Actually I didn’t realize he had recovered so well to shoot a 75 after his triple on 12, so I was pretty surprised when I heard we were going to a playoff.”
The playoff began on the par three, 140-yard hole 16 where both golfers had made par during regulation. Downen teed off first and hit his shot on the green about 23 feet to the right of the pin while Barbre’s ball was sitting on the left fringe of the green about 40 feet away.
“We went by who had the best score on 18, so he had the honor to go first,” Barbre said. “I got a little nervous and caught it fat and chunked my tee-shot a little bit.”
Barbre hit his next shot past the pin leaving him about a four-foot putt from the right side while Downen’s putt went three-feet above the pin. Downen then sank the putt leaving Barbre having to make his putt to stay in the playoff, but his it lipped out.
“I hit a pretty nice putt,” Barbre said. “I thought it was going to break pretty hard, but it really surprised me and stayed pretty straight, but it’s alright I had overall a decent day.”