Given the blustery conditions, with wind gusts sometimes reaching more than 20 mph on the par-71, 6,272-yard layout, there was no way to know which team would be victorious. It wasn’t until Alex Battle, Walton’s No. 6 golfer, came in with a score of 79 that Lassiter figured out it had won.
“Every shot helps,” Lassiter coach Butch Burden said.
With an 80 from No. 1 golfer Michael Toler, as well as solid totals from Max Weyrick (76), Adam Wright (75) and Brody Judd (78), the Trojans successfully defended their region championship — the only region titles in the program’s history — with a team score of 309, beating Walton by one stroke.
Last year, Lassiter needed four playoff holes before defeating Walton in the region championship.
The victory propelled the Trojans to the Class AAAAA state championship, where it will be joined by Walton on May 7 at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans.
Etowah (324) was third, followed by Woodstock (337), Cherokee (355), Marietta (357) and Wheeler (367).
“This is nice (to defend the region championship),” Burden said. “Both (Lassiter and Walton shot) 310 last year, and we shot 309 this year, so we improved by one stroke. The kids did a great job fighting through the elements and all of the wind. They were grinding the whole time and put together some solid scores. I’m excited for them.
“You like to play your best golf (at the region championship), and we did. Like last year, we didn’t play well the entire season as a team, and (Tuesday) we capitalized. It’s what we preach about this team. (Toler’s) 80, we needed it. He could have easily let that balloon to an 85 and we lose. He had a bad round and fought through it, and it turned out well for us.”
Lassiter also benefited from eagles by Wright and Weyrick — Wright’s on the par-5 seventh, Weyrick’s on the par-5 15th.
“We left some strokes out there, but made them up on those couple of eagles,” Burden said, “so it all turns out in the wash. (On Tuesday), it was good enough to get the win. It’s nice to see their hard work pay off.”
John Yi (74) and David Yowell (75) contributed to Walton’s total, as did Battle. Tanner Landry and Michael Sheahan each shot 82.
“That was probably the worst we’ve shot at a tournament the whole year,” Walton coach Mike Davidson said. “We’ve won every tournament we’ve played in, except for the one at Habersham, and we got second in that.
“You hate to be disappointed, but we’re a little disappointed finishing second. We want to beat Lassiter as bad as they want to beat us, but if we lose, I don’t mind losing to them because they have a good program. But, (I’m) disappointed over one stroke. You play all day long and one stroke gets you.
Woodstock’s Eric Burns fired a 74 and defeated Yi in a one-hole playoff to earn medalist honors. He sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th hole to edge Yi.
Burns, who also qualified for the state championship as the top individual not attached to a qualifying team, narrowly missed a fairway bunker off the tee, and landed his approach 12 feet from the pin. Yi’s approach landed towards the back of the green, but his 30-foot birdie try stopped only a foot past the hole. Yi made par, forcing Burns to birdie for the victory, which he did.
“John has a complete game, but he does really well with that putter,” Davidson said. “(Burns’) chip was really impressive. His short game is really good, and I’m tickled that he gets to go to state.”
Joining Burns and Yi on the leaderboard were Wright, Yowell, Weyrick, Etowah’s Jake Haggerty (77), Judd, Battle, Toler and five other golfers, including Landry and Sheahan, who each shot 82.