Late surges by Grayson, Fry highlight 8-AAAAAA boys golf tournament

SNELLVILLE — Several battles in the Region 8-AAAAAA boys golf tournament Thursday at Summit Chase Country Club weren’t decided until the final holes.

The competition for the team title was up in the air until surprisingly late in the afternoon before Grayson finally clinched it by six strokes over runner-up Brookwood.

The individual low medalist honor went down to the final hole of the final grouping before Dacula’s Hunter Fry birdied to finish his round at an even-par 72 to edge Brookwood’s Shawn Chong by a stroke and Grayson’s Michael Clay by two strokes.

Meanwhile, the other major competition came down to between a team and itself, as Parkview got matching scores of 6-over 78 from Braden Gibbs and David Carter to post a team score of 330, good enough for third place and qualify for the upcoming state sectional tournament.

Grayson’s winning team margin was a little closer than expected.

However the Rams eventually got four counting scores below 80, led by Clay’s 2-over 74 and bolstered by top-10 finishes from Alex Quinn, Dylan Heaser and Conner Dickinson, to hold off Brookwood’s score of 308 for their fifth straight region title and a spot in the state tournament May 19 at Champions Retreat in Evans.

“Brookwood played excellent,” Grayson coach Alan Yancey said. “They came in strong. But 302 for us is a school record for a tournament. … Mike Clay played through some tough situations on the course (Thursday). … All the guys played really well, and they played through a lot of adversity that wasn’t fully their fault.

“We get to go (straight) to state now. We’re always excited to go to state. We always try to make it a pretty big event for our guys.”

Unlike Grayson, Brookwood will have to play through a state sectional tournament May 5 at Cannongate at Georgia National in McDonough.

However, the Broncos didn’t have to sweat out whether they would make the required qualifying score of 330, especially after No. 6 player Alex Weisel posted an impressive score of 79 with the team’s first final card of the day to set the tone.

“Any time you get your five or your six to put up a number early, it’s going to be a good day,” Brookwood coach Steven Thompson said. “It takes a little pressure off you. It didn’t look like it would early because (Weisel) was 5-over after six holes. So, that’s a pretty good turnaround, especially here coming around the back (nine).

“We started putting some 30s on the board in the back nine. Any time you put a number starting with a three on the back nine (at Summit Chase), you’re playing pretty good.”

A strong back nine was a key to sub-80 scores from Chong (1-over 73) and Phillip Westberry (75), plus an 81 from Blaine Ewing to account for Brookwood’s total.

Parkview will join Brookwood at the sectional tournament thanks to some good work late from Gibbs and Carter, as well as a round of 85 from David Brown and 89 from Heath Sanford, that helped the Panthers just make the qualifying score.

“I knew it was pretty close,” Parkview coach Devon Walker said. “The first couple guys came in, and they played pretty decent. … It was just close all year long. … We get another week to kind of work on some stuff. We’ve got a couple of young players.”

The biggest drama of the day came in battle for individual medalist, in which Fry and Chong came into the 18th hole tied.

But the Dacula sophomore hit a 9-iron from 146 yards out to within 7 feet of the pin and drained the birdie putt to edge Chong, who settled for a par, by a single stroke.

“I was just trying to hit it pretty close,” Fry said. “When (Chong) missed his birdie putt, I knew I had a chance to win. I’m just happy I’m going to have a chance to go to state.”