BY JESSE SMITHEY
Lance Simpson and the Farragut boys’ golf team didn’t have much wiggle room entering Wednesday’s final round of the TSSAA Large Class State Golf Tournament.
So they went out and created their own buffer.
Simpson, the Farragut senior and University of Tennessee commitment, carded a final-round, 8-under 64 to give him a two-stroke victory in the boys’ individual championship at 13-under 131.
As for the Admirals boys’ team, it had a day that will go down in its program history books.
They shot a 5-under 283 — eight shots off the state-record pace (Baylor, 2003) — on Wednesday to give them a 36-hole mark of 7-over 583 to win the state title by 12 shots over Ravenwood.
The championship is the Farragut boys’ program’s seventh overall but first since 2014.
Simpson is the Farragut’s seventh individual boys champion and first two-time winner, as he added a full 36-hole title to the rain-shortened, 18-hole individual championship he won and shared as a sophomore in 2018.
“It definitely feels better winning for 36 holes, rather than 18,” said Simpson. “But getting a team win was a lot better than an individual win, because we’d been working for it for a long time.”
This one, yes, was all Simpson’s, as his 131 total was just one shot off tying the state record for 36 holes by Seth Brandon (Baylor, 2003).
Simpson opened Tuesday with a 5-under 67 but shared the lead with Jackson Herrington (Dickson County). No matter. Simpson stormed to a 4-under start through seven holes in Round 2.
Still, Herrington — who was playing in a different group behind Simpson — jumped out to a 5-under start through eight holes.
But Simpson separated from the pack on hole Nos. 9-14. He birdied No. 9 for a front-nine, 5-under 31 and then added birdies at the par-5 12th and par-4 14th. He had no bogeys in that six-hole span. Simpson’s 64 was two shots shy of tying the state record for best single-round score.
“The course, all week, was playing pretty good. It was firm fairways, and the greens were pretty receptive hitting shots into them,” said Simpson. “I knew I could get aggressive to all the pins and give myself good chances for birdies.”
Meanwhile, Herrington dropped shots with bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10. He birdied his last two holes to close the gap, and Herrington shot a final-round 66 to finish runner-up at 133. Garrett Chumley, of Oakland, shot rounds of 68 and 67 to finish third at 135.
Simpson, though, wasn’t the only Admiral who had his A-game on Wednesday.
Another senior for Farragut, Connor Price, opened with 82 but rebounded Wednesday with a clutch 72 to tie for 28th. A.J. Rinehart, also a Farragut senior, followed his first-round 77 with a 75. He tied for 22nd.
And freshman Owen Queener, whose 84 Tuesday didn’t count toward Farragut’s opening-round total, checked in Wednesday a final-round 72. He birdied two of his last three to get to par and tied for 32nd.
That took pressure off fellow Farragut freshman Brady Harville, who came to the rescue on Tuesday with a 74. Harville shot 84 on Wednesday and tied for 41st.
Nevertheless, Farragut made history once again and furthered its golf tradition. Ravenwood, which trailed Farragut by one shot after Round 1, finished second at 19-over 595. Greenbrier, who trailed Farragut by two shots after Tuesday, dropped to fifth (617).
“It was super exciting,” Simpson said of the team win. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work the last couple of weeks, and it’s paid off.”
Knoxville West junior Carson Kammann capped a fantastic 2020 summer and fall run with a final-round, 6-under 66 that moved him into solo fourth place 2-under 142. Kammann used an eagle at the par-5 second and birdies at Nos. 7, 10, 12, 13 and 16 to make his surge.
Campbell County’s David Bates (77-79) finished tied for 32nd. Bearden freshman Jayden Morrell (78-79) was tied for 38th.
GIRLS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Farragut senior and Illinois commitment Lexanne Halama needed a final-round push to claim the individual title. But the reigning 5Star Preps Girls Golfer of the Year just couldn’t ignite a substantial one Wednesday.
Halama shot 1 under during her final eight holes, shot 2-over 74 and finished at 5-over 149. That mark placed her in eighth place by herself.
The Lady Admirals finished in third place at 18-over 306, some 12 shots behind winner Station Camp (294). Tennessee High, the first-round leader by seven shots, was runner-up at 295.
Vivian Wang (81-78) and Lindsay Ott (79-85) finished tied for 20th and solo 26th, respectively, for the Farragut girls’ golf team.
Hardin Valley senior Madilyn Newman rebounded from an opening 81 with a final-round 74. She finished tied for 15th.
Bearden’s Maya Hira (86-82) and Maryville’s Madison Atchley (88-85) finished tied for 28th and tied for 33rd, respectively.
Sullivan South’s Kara Carter won the girls’ individual title at 6-under 138 thanks to a final-round 66. Alabama commit Isabella van der Biest, who was the first-round leader at 68, claimed second place. She was five shots back of Carter at 143.