High School Sports

Golf powerhouse St. Xavier three-peats at KHSAA state tournament

Franklin County’s C.J. Jones teed off the ninth hole during the boys' 9th Region golf tournament at Kearney Hill Links Lexington, Ky, on Sept. 27, 2016.
Franklin County’s C.J. Jones teed off the ninth hole during the boys' 9th Region golf tournament at Kearney Hill Links Lexington, Ky, on Sept. 27, 2016. palcala@herald-leader.com

Even with all its history of dominance on the golf course, St. Xavier managed to do something that it had ever done before Saturday afternoon in the Leachman Buick-GMC-Cadillac/KHSAA Golf State Championship at Bowling Green Country Club.

The Tigers defeated Greenwood by 11 strokes to claim their first three-peat in program history, becoming just the second school to ever put together a run of more than two consecutive team titles. Male won five straight team titles from 1944-1948.

It was title No. 21 for St. Xavier, which is triple the amount of Male, and three more than the next three schools on the list — Male (7), Trinity (6) and Bowling Green (5) — combined.

Clay Amlung, a senior, paced St. Xavier with a 2-under-142 after two rounds. He tied Greenwood freshman Canon Claycomb for second place.

Lyon County junior Cullan Brown — who was the state runner-up after losing a playoff to Franklin County’s C.J. Jones in 2015 — won the individual title with a two-day score of 5-under-139.

Brown, whom Golfweek has ranked as the eighth best player nationally in the class of 2018, committed to the University of Kentucky in May.

“I couldn’t be happier to play college golf at the state’s flagship university and to be a Wildcat,” Brown told the media outlet then. “I love the state of Kentucky and its people.”

Jones finished tied for 11th while trying to defend the title he won as a junior. The Ball State commit finished 6-over-150, shooting 75 each day.

Henry Clay junior Will Ginter ended in a tie for 15th place overall with a 7-over-151, the best finish by a Lexington golfer since Matthew Mahle (Lexington Catholic) was an eighth-place finisher in 2012. That tournament was also the last time a Fayette County public school golfer finished in the top 20; Tates Creek’s Chandler Morgan tied for 15th that same season.

“He was really pleased with it and so was I,” Henry Clay Coach Wes Jackson said in a phone interview. “ ... The putter wasn’t as hot today as it was yesterday, it let him down a little bit. But he still played a solid round today.”

Jackson said conditions were ideal on Friday but a chilly and windy morning contributed to lower scores across the board on Saturday. Example: St. Xavier shot an even 288 as a team in round one before posting a 318 on Saturday.

Ginter, playing in his first state tournament, was in Brown’s group on Friday. Jackson said Brown was “jovial” and a terrific partner with which to play golf.

“I think Will fed off of him,” Jackson said. “It was a great pairing.”

Franklin County finished in sixth place as a team. None of the golfers for Madison Central, behind which the Flyers finished in the 9th Region tournament, made the second-day cut.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps