Boys' state golf tournament

LCA's title win fulfills destiny

Mirchandani of Manual takes individual crown

mfields@herald-leader.comOctober 10, 2010 

BOWLING GREEN — Hunter Stewart might as well wear blinders when he's on the golf course because the Lexington Christian Academy senior never looks beyond his next shot.

But as he waited on the 18th tee in the final round of the Leachman/KHSAA State Tournament on Saturday, Stewart momentarily lost his focus when LCA teammate and fellow senior Taylor Combs gave him a bear hug.

"That's when I knew it was over and realized we really had won," Stewart said.

Combs got caught up in the moment, too.

"Walking up the 18th fairway, it hit me that we had the state title," he said. "It was awesome, an experience I'll always remember."

LCA, which has been the best boys' golf team in Kentucky all season, proved it by winning the championship in emphatic fashion at Bowling Green Country Club.

Coach Eric Geldhof's Eagles beat two-time defending champ St. Xavier by 14 shots.

After concentrating on game plans and tactical strategies the last couple of weeks, LCA couldn't help but get buoyed by their feelings during the final round.

"There was a ton of emotion out there," Geldhof said. "When we had such a big lead, we just fought it from the heart the rest of the way."

LCA put itself in prime position by taking a 12-shot lead in Friday's first round. It didn't play as well on Saturday, but it still turned in solid golf.

"It wasn't pretty; none of us played that well, but we went out and got the job done," Combs said.

After LCA finished fourth in 2007, third in 2008 and second last October, Stewart said it was "just the sequence it was supposed to be — with us winning it this year."

All five LCA golfers finished in the top 25.

Manual's Akash Mirchandani ran away with the individual title. After a first-day 73, Mirchandani fired a 6-under 66 to win by 5 shots over Stewart (70-74—144).

LCA's Combs (75-76—151) tied for 12th; Hager Collins (76-76—152) tied for 15th; Chandler Fischer (76-77—153) was 19th, and Ethan Sprang (77-79—156) tied for 22nd.

Paul Laurence Dunbar's Will Bishop and Henry Clay's Preston French also tied for 15th. Both shot 75-77—152.

Defending champ Justin Thomas of St. X, who helped the United States win the Junior Ryder Cup in Scotland last week, tied for third with Tyler McDaniel of Clay County at 147.

West Jessamine freshman Fred Allen Meyer tied for fifth and helped the Colts to a third-place team finish.

If LCA's team championship was expected, Mirchandani's individual title was not.

Mirchandani, playing in his first state tournament, got off to a torrid start in the final round. He birdied the second and third holes, eagled the fifth and birdied the sixth.

"I got to 5-under after six, and I don't think I'd ever done that before," he said. "That's when I realized I was doing something special.

"I made a lot of putts, that was the key. My ball-striking was not that great, but my putting was."

Mirchandani's back-nine included a couple of improbable birdies to negate a bogey on No. 16. He rolled in a 60-foot putt on No. 15, and chipped in from 40 feet on No. 18.

Mirchandani, an academic star, said he plans to play college golf but didn't want to reveal his plans until they are finalized.

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