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April 16, 2014

HUNTSVILLE GOLF — Chandler Phillips wins third straight Region III championship

SEALY — The back-to-back defending champion left no doubt as to who is the top golfer in Class 4A’s Region III.

Huntsville junior Chandler Phillips went into the final round of the regional tournament Wednesday in fourth place and three shots back of the lead, then turned in a 2-under-par 69 performance, capped by a birdie on the 18th hole to win the regional individual medalist title for a third year in a row. By doing so, he clinched his third straight berth to the UIL Golf State Tournament.

Phillips dealt with all sorts of elements over the two-day stretch at the River Ridge Golf Club, from his own sub-par putting Tuesday to battling the wind during Wednesday’s action.

But around midway through the second round, Phillips locked in. He couldn’t hear the players around him, or even the supporting spectators nearby.

It was just him and the top individual medal by the time Phillips hit the back nine.

“I was in my zone,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to kind of get that way sometimes. I think one of the reasons I didn’t play so well (on Tuesday) was because I was too social. I was kind out here talking and having fun. But today, I was so zoned out that I don’t even remember some shots.”

The ninth hole is where things really got interesting for Phillips. He hit a shot into the wind, which bounced off the fairway and placed his ball between the trees for the second shot on the par-4.

Phillips calmly handled the up-and-down like a champ.

“I hit driver because of the wind and had to be between clubs because I didn’t want to bring the trap into play,” Phillips said. “I just wanted to hit driver right over the top of it. So I hit it and I guess it got a big bounce in the fairway. I didn’t see it from the tee. Then I went down here and had 120 yards in, but I had to keep it below the trees. I hit the shot that I wanted to, I just flew it too far. I made par and that’s when I kind of got into a zone.”

Phillips was 1-under for most of the day, until he and Port Neches Groves’ Braden Bailey were tied atop the leaderboard on the final hole.

There was a chance that the two golfers would settle it all in a playoff round.

But Phillips was both good and lucky down the stretch.

“He got up there and made par so I just hit it down the fairway with my 2-iron and had 190 yards into the green,” Phillips said. “My putt actually shouldn’t have gone in but I hit it so hard, it hit the back of the hole, popped up and fell back in. If it would’ve missed the hole, I probably would’ve had about 10 feet coming back. I got kind of lucky with that.

“It was a good day. I kept it together, made some good up-and-downs.”

Phillips’ total score of 143 was one stroke better than Bailey’s 144. Summer Creek’s Connor Black placed third among the individual medalists with a score of 147 to advance to the state tournament.

In team results, Montgomery was the top finisher with a two-day score of 633. Friendswood was the runner-up with a 637, following a playoff with George Ranch.

No golfer separated himself the way Phillips did.

“He put himself in a little bit of a hole on the first day and the only way to play out of a little bit of a hole is to play great the second day and he did that,” Huntsville coach Marcus Evans said. “This is a difficult course with several difficult holes and the challenge today was to make some birdies so he could be under par. And he needed to minimize his mistakes on some of the difficult holes. So you bet, on a few of them, he did have to work very hard in order to keep things going.

“On the last hole, he knew he had to birdie in order to win the tournament on possibly the hardest hole on the golf course. Under the pressure of knowing he had to birdie to win, he birdied. And that says a lot.”

The state tournament will be held at the University of Texas Golf Club in on April 28-29.

 

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