By JESSE SMITHEY
Golf can often be a game of close calls, and a couple went the other way Tuesday against a few state-championship hopefuls from Knoxville.
West High School senior Carson Kammann and the Halls boys’ golf team staged back-nine charges in the final round of the TSSAA State Golf Tournament at Sevierville Golf Club only to see the players they were chasing escape by the narrowest of margins.
Kammann started the final round just one shot back and applied pressure to the leader all day. Kammann birdied four of his last nine holes — including a bride at the last — to shoot a second-round, 3-under 69. While the accomplished player’s 8-under 136 total across two days might have won on any other year, it finished one shot back of Macon County freshman Maddox Crowder.
Showing a steely nerve for someone his age playing in the final group, Crowder signed for a bogey-free, 3-under 69 on the River Course to finish at 9-under 135 and win the Division I-AA individual championship. His birdie at the par-3 17th Tuesday gave him a two-shot lead with one to play, and he parred the par-5 last hole to secure the one-shot win.
Kamman, an ETSU golf commitment and the 2021 5Star Preps Masters champion, improved upon his fourth-place showing at state from last fall. His last three rounds in the state tournament, dating back to last year: 66, 67, 69.
Adding to the youth storyline Tuesday was Blades Brown — an eighth-grader from Brentwood Academy — winning the Division II-AA state individual tournament by six shots over a field that featured upperclassman Division I commitments and prospects.
Despite opening Monday’s round with a bogey, Brown rolled to a first-round, 8-under 64.
He followed that Tuesday with a solid round of 69 to win with ease over Baylor’s Sheldon McKnight (70-69), Baylor’s David Schneider-Jerez (69-70), Ensworth’s Toby Wilt (69-70) and Baylor’s Haden Maxwell (70-69).
Halls nearly pulled off a major comeback in the team competition in Division I-AA, the Red Devils seeking their fourth overall state title in program history and first since the repeat in 2017. Though the Red Devils trailed eventual state champion Brentwood by just five shots heading into Tuesday’s final round, they fell behind, at one point, by some 15 strokes Tuesday. The early parts of Tuesday’s round proved unkind.
But Halls made made major amends.
Sophomore standout Ethan Whitaker, the 2020 5Star Preps Masters champion, went on a back-nine tear with birdies at hole Nos. 10, 12, 13 and 14. His bounce-back effort along with Ashton Condra’s steady 4-under 68 gave Halls a chance down the stretch. But none of Halls’ players in the lineup birdied the par-5 18th in either the first or final round. And that hurt, as they finished at 17-over 593 — just two shots behind Brentwood.
Condra finished for seventh individually at 2-under 142. William Blount’s Nick Etherton tied for 10th (74–144). Bearden sophomore Jaden Morrell shot a 71 Tuesday to land in a tie for 12th (145).
Whitaker (74) tied for 15th at 156.
Played on the Highlands Course at Sevierville Golf Club, the Clarksville girls won the Division I-AA team championship at 23-over 303 by 15 shots over Cleveland and Ravenwood. Farragut and Sevier County finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Franklin junior Sophia Diapolo (4-under 136) won the Division I-AA girls individual crown.
Halls freshman Lauren Davis shot a final-round 70 to finish tied for 12th at 158.
Bearden senior Sydney Branson, the 2021 5Star Preps Masters champion, bounced back from a first-round 84 to post 74 Tuesday and tie for 12th.
Farragut’s Gabrielle Starling carded a hole in one Tuesday on the par-3 13th en route to a 77. She tied for 17th (161), where Jefferson County’s Madison Cline was, as well, after rounds of 81 and 80.
In Division II, the Baylor boys’ golf team finished with an historic low of 19-under 557 across the 36-hole event on the River Course, winning Division II-AA by 17 over Ensworth.
It’s the 20th team state championship for Baylor boys golf, and their 557 is a new team TSSAA state tournament record, breaking Baylor’s old mark of 565 from 2003. Baylor’s 11-under 277 round today was the second-lowest in TSSAA state tournament history and just two shots back of Baylor’s 275 from 2006.
Knoxville Catholic junior Harrison Thompson followed his third-place showing from 2020 with a tie for sixth this week, shooting a final-round 69 to claw his way up the leaderboard to 4-under 140.
Baylor’s girls won the Division II-AA team competition by one stroke over Lipscomb Academy. Webb finished sixth.
FOR FULL FIELD SCORES, CLICK HERE.
Presented by Austin White of Realty Executives