High School Sports

Franklin County's Jones wins state golf title in sudden death

Franklin County's C.J. Jones chips onto the green during the state championship on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at Bowling Green Country Club. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)
Franklin County's C.J. Jones chips onto the green during the state championship on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at Bowling Green Country Club. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com) Daily News

BOWLING GREEN — Records are made to be broken. A few of the boys who took the course for the final day of the state high school golf tournament at Bowling Green Country Club embraced that mantra Wednesday, busting one mark and matching another.

Feeling drained after rallying down the stretch to put himself into contention, Franklin County's C.J. Jones had to muster the strength needed to compete in a sudden-death playoff against clubhouse leader Cullan Brown of Lyon County.

Turns out, they both had enough left in their tanks to extend the round to a state record-tying fourth extra hole, where Jones knocked in a short birdie putt on hole No. 12 to win the individual title by one stroke. Brown's putt skirted just left of the hole.

The playoff started on No. 18 then went to 10 and 11 before finishing at 12.

"I'm dead on my feet right now," said Jones, adding that his legs started to feel fatigued as he headed down 11.

The junior, who was in the final group to finish on No. 18 in regulation, said that he thought coming off that hole and going right into a playoff without extended rest was an advantage.

He didn't have to worry about tightening up and had birdied 16 and 17, so he felt like momentum was on his side. He'd nearly ended things in 18 holes.

"My definite plan was to make birdie," said Jones, reflecting upon his approach to 18, "but I hit a little bit of a wayward tee shot and laid up a little bit too far and had some tree trouble."

He ended up with a chip that fell a few feet short of the hole. He putted in for par to force the playoff.

Brown, a sophomore, was down four strokes entering the second day so he wanted to force the leaders to shoot under par and "keep them honest." He did his part, with birdies on four holes — including No. 18 — and getting an eagle on 14 for a day-two best 5-under 67.

"It was luck as much as anything, of course," Brown said of his eagle. "A little chip in there from the front of the green. It just happened to hit the hole and go in. ... It puts a smile on your face and lit a fire underneath of me.

"I just wish I could've maybe made one more there in the last four holes."

Jones said it motivated him being in the same group as day-one leader Allen Hamilton, one of St. Xavier's five standout seniors who will play at the next level. Hamilton, who will play at the University of Kentucky, had a birdie putt roll just left of the hole on 18 to miss out on the playoff by a stroke.

"It was a lot of break," said Hamilton of that shot. "I thought it was in with about 3 feet to go, but it just snapped."

St. Xavier ran away with the team title with a two-day total of 19-under par 557.

St. Xavier Coach Dan Utley called the final tally "absurd." And it was — the Tigers were collectively so strong that Hamilton's second-day score wasn't even included as one of the four used to calculate the team's score for the day.

The state-record finish put the Tigers 37 strokes ahead of runner-up Franklin County. The previous low for the tournament was Trinity's 579 in 2003.

Lexington Christian finished tied for seventh in the team standings. The Eagles had been on a roll. Coach Eric Geldhof thought his team played "OK" on Monday but didn't perform up to its potential Tuesday.

"It wasn't our best, but at the start of the year with what I was looking at, I'd say to finish in the top 10 was great," Geldhof said. "I just hate it for my seniors. I think the emotion of them leaving is kind of overriding how we actually finished."

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