BY JESSE SMITHEY
The TSSAA Class AA and Division II-AA state golf tournaments concluded Tuesday at Sevierville Golf Club.
Here are the main takeaways, top area individuals and best area team finishes you need to know about…
BACK TO BACK TO BACK …
Brentwood Academy sophomore Blades Brown won his third consecutive Division II-AA boys state championship, following up his first-round, 8-under 64 with a final-round 66 on Tuesday.
His 14-under 130 total tied a TSSAA record for lowest 36-hole score and won by five shots over Briarcrest junior Henry O’Keefe (69—135).
Brown shot 4-under 32 on his opening nine holes Tuesday to signal to the field that a stumble wasn’t in the cards for them today; he would be closing the door on this championship. He didn’t make a bogey over his final 26 holes of the event.
His 130 mark led Brentwood Academy to the team title (10-under 566). Baylor was second at 578.
If he wins it all as a junior or senior, Brown will be the first male golfer in TSSAA history to win four individual state golf championships. He tied Evan Woosley-Reed (Cascade, 2019-21), Grant Hirschman (St. George’s, 2010, 2012-13), Hunter Kraus (St. George’s, 2007-09) and Mike Malarkey (Chattanooga Central, 1961-63) as the only players to win three.
As an eighth-grader in 2021, Brown was more than good enough to start on varsity. He wound up winning the 2021 TSSAA Division II-AA state golf tournament by six shots — firing rounds of 64 and 69.
A year later, he showed he could rally for a comeback win. After a first-round 69, Brown shot 7-under 65 in the final round to win the 2022 Division II-AA state golf tournament by three shots.
His name broke through the state barrier in mid-August of this year and started seeping into national golf media stories when he broke a 103-year-old record in the U.S. Amateur by becoming the youngest medalist in U.S. Amateur history. Who owned the previous record? None other than Bobby Jones.
Brown shot 22 under and won the 54-hole 2023 Tennessee Junior Amateur by 12 shots in late June just a couple of weeks after he finished fifth (at 17 under) in the 54-hole 2023 Tennessee State Open, an event open to professional golfers and amateur golfers alike.
His mother is former Vanderbilt/WNBA women’s basketball player and current legendary Brentwood Academy girls basketball coach Rhonda Blades Brown.
Webb’s Tate Woodruff and Catholic’s Grant Odom were the only area players in the Division II-AA boys field this week.
Woodruff shot two rounds of 73 to tie for 12th.
Odom carded 76 and 75 to tie for 21st.
GAMBINI, WEST GIRLS POST SOLID FINISHES
The West High School girls golf program had a very respectable showing in its two days in the Division I, Class AA, field.
The Lady Rebels shot two strokes better than their Monday offering, and their final-round, 15-over 155 placed them fourth in the eight-team championship at 32-over 312. That mark was only 15 shots behind winner Dobyns-Bennett (297), which closed strong with a 146 on Day Two. First-round leader Page (148-150—298) finished runner-up by one stroke.
Calley Holbert led the West charge with a final-round 76. That, paired with her first-round 78, gave her a 14-over 154 total and solo 10th-place finish.
Her teammate, Anna Claire Gibson, shot 79 Tuesday and claimed solo 16th at 158.
Warren County’s Lauren Slatton won the girls individual title in Class AA with a 3-under 137. Dobyns-Bennett’s McKenzie Hauk was second (144) along with Houston’s Sophie Christopher.
Heritage junior Sophia Gambini was the area’s low finisher. She placed fifth with rounds of 74 and 73.
Bearden’s Maya Hira rocketed up the leaderboard Tuesday into a tie for 11th thanks to her final-round 73.
Halls junior Lauren Davis shot 76-80 to tie for 13th.
MORRELL PACES BEARDEN
The Bearden boys golf team, which was making its first state appearance since 1983, needed a big-time finish Tuesday to try and contend for a state title. The Bulldogs trailed first-round leader Brentwood High by seven shots after Round 1. But Bearden wound up posting a 21-over 309 mark on Tuesday, which was seven shots behind its Monday pace.
Bearden ultimately finished sixth in the Division I, Class AA, field at 35-over-611.
Brentwood High won at 10-over 586.
Bearden senior Jaden Morrell tied for ninth individually thanks to a pair of 71s.
Halls’ Ethan Whitaker, who opened in 70 on Monday, was within striking distance of eventual individual champion Parker Elkins of Clarksville (7-under 137). But a bogey by Whitaker at 12 and triple-bogey at the par-4 14th did in his chances.
Still, Whitaker — a Chattanooga commit — rebounded like a boss, eagling the par-4 15th and birdieing the par-3 17th to climb back inside the top 10.
He shot a final-round 72 and tied with Morrell for ninth.
Hardin Valley Academy sophomore Jacob Sheffield (70-76) tied for 14th.
KNOXVILLE CATHOLIC LADY IRISH JUMP TO THIRD
Starting the final round in fourth place, the Knoxville Catholic Lady Irish eventually claimed bronze in the Division II-AA tournament.
Ensworth won at an astounding 6-over 286.
Catholic shot 158-165 for a 43-over 323, edging fourth-place Hutchison by one shot. Baylor was second (294).
Ensworth golfers Alexandra Crews (75-68) and Savannah Cherry (70-73) tied for first at 3-over 143.
Catholic’s Teagan Walker led the Lady Irish with an 11th-place finish at 17-over 157. She signed for rounds of 75 and 82. Tori Tampas, of Catholic, was tied for 16th (83—166).
Webb’s Palmer Sykes placed 15th (165), as her final round 79 helped her climb in standing.