By JESSE SMITHEY
The 2023 high school golf season concluded Friday with the final rounds of the Division I, Class A, and Division II, Class A, TSSAA state golf tournaments at Sevierville Golf Club.
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Will Bacon of Kingston. (Photo by Danny Parker)
BACON WINS SOLO TITLE, KINGSTON BOYS 3-PEAT IN CLASS A
The Kingston golf program served up a double dose of history on Friday.
Not only did the Yellow Jackets win a third consecutive state title — for the first time in their program’s history — but they also had their first-ever individual state champion.
Kingston senior Will Bacon slept on the lead and never succumbed to any back-nine pressure during the final round, even though Bolivar junior Carson Daniel applied pressure.
Bacon followed his stellar first-round, 6-under 66 from Thursday with a solid 71 on Friday to become Kingston’s first individual golf champion.
His 7-under 137 winning total edged Daniel by two shots.
“It wasn’t that big of a lead (after Thursday), so we knew we had to go out and play good today,” Bacon told 5Star Preps. “I definitely felt a little jitters last night, but it was nice to be up three (individually) this year, instead of being down six going into Day Two like last year.”
Daniel birdied Nos. 11 and 12 Friday to get to 4 under on his round and cut into Bacon’s lead.
Bacon was 1 over Friday through 13 holes but consecutive birdies at the River Course’s par-4 14th and 15th holes pushed his lead to four strokes with three holes to play.
He made pars on his final three, forcing Daniel to try and close in 4 under on his final four holes to force a playoff.
“Today I knew I didn’t need to go out and try to force birdies. I knew that if I played solid today, that it would be tough for anybody to catch me,” Bacon said. “I just tried to be a little more conservative today and play my own game.
“Those (birdies on 14 and 15) were definitely momentum-changers,” Bacon added. “I had bogeyed (Nos.) 9 and 11 and then made a good par putt on 12. I knew I needed to make a couple birdies coming in. I had a really bad lie on 14 but then I hit it to about 8 inches and tapped in (for birdie). I drove the green on 15 and just two-putted for birdie. That definitely helped a lot.”
Daniel birdied 15 but parred 16 and 17, meaning he needed a double-eagle at the par-5 18th to catch Bacon. Daniel birdied for a final-round 66.
Bacon’s Kingston teammate Ethan Arneson (72-76—148) placed sixth. He played his final six holes Friday in even par.
That, paired with Bacon’s 2-under play on the final six holes, helped the Yellow Jackets clinch the win at 44-over 620.
Stewart County was runner up at 49-over 625. Alcoa finished fifth at 690.
Kingston’s team title was its fifth overall, joining the ones it won in 1999, 2000, 2020 and 2021.
“There was a big celebration afterwards,” Bacon said of Friday’s team win. “And we’re all going to Lakeside (Golf Course in Kingston) right now to celebrate. There will be a lot of people there from our hometown.”
FINAL CLASS A BOYS SCOREBOARD
CAK BOYS’ TITLE RUN COMES TO AN END
After six consecutive state championships, the run of titles came to an end for the Christian Academy of Knoxville boys’ golf team in Division II-A.
The Warriors held a small lead after Thursday’s first round. But that two-shot buffer didn’t hold on Friday.
Battle Ground Academy shot 7-over 295 as a team on Friday to jump up into first place and win state at 17-over 593.
CAK made an eleventh-hour rally to cut BGA’s lead to six shots down the stretch, but the Warriors eventually took third at 601. Franklin Road Academy was runner-up (597). First Baptist Academy of Powell was fourth (610).
Thatsakon Phothong of Webb-Bell Buckle won the individual title at 4-under 140 on the strength of a final-round 68.
CAK’s Bryson White (71-79) and Blake Russell (77-73) tied for 13th. Their teammate Tanner Varner (75-76) was 17th.
Max Green, of First Baptist Academy, made 17 consecutive pars Friday en route to a 73. That catapulted him into a tie for 11th.
Maryville Apostolic’s Collin Keion wound up as the area’s low finisher in Division II-A boys. The lefty carded a 73 Friday and tied for ninth (148).
FINAL DIVISION II-A BOYS SCOREBOARD
KINGSTON GIRLS FINISH RUNNER-UP
Kingston seniors Brylee Crouse and Kailey Lane shot a combined 4-under par Friday on hole Nos. 17 and 18, as they tried to rally and supplant Summertown atop the leaderboard in the final round of the Class A girls state tournament.
But the comeback fell a touch short.
Crouse and Lane finished, individually, in second and third place, respectively.
But Summertown escaped Sevierville Golf Club with a sixth consecutive state championship in Class A girls golf, denying Kingston its first. The Lady Yellow Jackets finished runner-up in 2022, as well.
Karlie Campbell won 2023 Class A girls’ medalist honors with rounds of 68 and 67 to finish at 5-under 135, leading Summertown (141-146—287) to a five-stroke win over Kingston (148-144).
Crouse and Lane each carded rounds of 2-over 72 on Friday. Crouse, an MTSU commit, was runner-up individually at 5-over 145.
Lane, a Tennessee Tech commit, claimed bronze at 147.
Greenback’s Lorien Sweet tied for fifth at 153 thanks to a final-round 73.
FINAL CLASS A GIRLS SCOREBOARD
CAK GIRLS PLACE THIRD IN DIVISION II-A
The deficit was almost insurmountable after Day One.
Providence Christian Academy, the defending state champion, shot an unreal 9-under 131 mark in the first round and led CAK by 16 shots heading into the final round.
Providence coasted on Day Two, winning the Division II-A state championship with a 1-under 279 total.
Webb-Bell Buckle finished runner-up at 288, and CAK was third at 297.
Caroline Pardue (Providence Academy) won medalist honors at 4-under 136. She shot rounds of 64 and 72.
CAK sophomore Isabella Coughlin was solo fifth at 5-over 145. Coughlin carded a 5-over 75 Friday.
CAK junior Alexis Fishel was 10th and mirrored her first-round 77 with another on Friday. CAK freshman Grady Thomas shot 75 Friday. She finished with a 155 total, which was good enough for 11th place.
Lakeway Academy’s Addisyn Newman (79-78—157) finished 13th.
Isabella Johnson, who shot 67 for Providence Academy on Thursday, did not play Friday. The second-round score of her teammate Reagan Warren (76-76—152) was used in Providence’s second-round 148 mark.
FINAL DIVISION II-A GIRLS SCOREBOARD