E.A. Sports Today

Bussey runs away with title

White Plains senior posts two rounds in the 60s, plays the par-5s in 7-under, wins by 11

Individual champion Layton Bussey follows through on his tee shot off the 10th tee Saturday at Pine Hill Country Club. Below, Bussey (center) is flanked by runner-up Jacob Lecroy (right) and third low medalist teammate Nathan Griffin. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Individual champion Layton Bussey follows through on his tee shot off the 10th tee Saturday at Pine Hill Country Club. Below, Bussey (center) is flanked by runner-up Jacob Lecroy (right) and third low medalist teammate Nathan Griffin. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Layton Bussey was in a hurry, but he wasn’t in a rush.

The White Plains senior had prom to go to later in the day, but before that fun he went out and fired a bogey-free 4-under-par 68 to win low medalist in the Calhoun County Boys Golf Championship at Pine Hill Country Club.

Bussey’s two rounds in red numbers left him at 7-under 137 for the tournament and 11 shots better than runnerup Jacob Lecroy of Donoho. Sophomore teammate Nathan Griffin was third at 154.

It’s difficult to play good golf when there’s something on your mind, but Bussey did a good job staying focused on the task at hand.

“I knew I had to go somewhere, but it’s not like I had to leave right after, so I had time,” he said. “I knew what I had to do, but I wasn’t like worried about it or anything.”

His prom date, Haley Helms, was in the nice-sized gallery that followed the leaders, but she had to leave after the par-3 16th, so she missed seeing him finish it off with birdies on each of his last two holes. He went birdie-eagle on those two holes in Friday’s opening round.

“There was motivation for me to go low,” Bussey said. “A lot of good players graduated and everybody was saying the field was weak — I disagree.

“I wanted to go out and make a statement.”

Bussey’s second round in the 60s helped the Wildcats rally to win their second straight team title by six shots over Donoho. They entered the day three shots back and he wanted to do everything he could to make up the difference.

“That was my whole mentality,” he said. “I did have the lead yesterday, but I can’t go out there and be like maybe I can squeeze by. I was trying to go low because we’re still down, so I’m not in the lead.

“Jacob said to me on the last hole after we hit our tee ball, ‘You can make double-par here and still win,’ but that’s not necessarily true in the team standings, so I was pushing late to get birdies because we started the day three back and I really didn’t know where we were coming in.”

The key to Bussey’s win was his play on the par-5s. He played them in 7-under for the tournament – his exact score – which made up for not scoring in the middle of the round.

He birdied three of the par-5s in the final round (missing only 15) and had two eagles on them Friday (6 and 18). He played the stretch from 7 to 15 where there are no par-5s in 2-over for the weekend.

“When we were talking to the team before we started this morning, I was preaching to everybody we had to take advantage of the par-5s – and he did that,” White Plains coach Marcus Harrell said. “Out here, the par-5s will make or break you. If you don’t take advantage of it, there are a few holes out here that can come up and bite you, so you have to make sure you get the par-5s to have a chance to shoot under par.”

Bussey had been a serious challenger for the individual title each the last three years and almost got it last year. He had a four-shot lead on the back nine, but couldn’t close and lost in a playoff to senior teammate Dustin Travis.

This year he went into the final round with an eight-shot lead and was never seriously threatened. He made sure of it with consistent play.

“I worked hard and finally realized it was never my physical game that was out of shape,” he said. “I got my head right and got some confidence. I’ve always known I could do it, but in the moment my head hadn’t been in the right place. I think I’ve got it much closer now.”

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