E.A. Sports Today

Bussey shares medal

White Plains senior fires best-round of week in Class 4A, 2-under 70, to finish tied for low medalist

White Plains' Layton Bussey (L) talks with his playing partners after Tuesday's final round of the state tournament. On the cover, Bussey (R) and Andrew Graves of UMS-Wright shared low medalist.

White Plains’ Layton Bussey (L) talks with his playing partners after Tuesday’s final round of the state tournament. On the cover, Bussey (R) and Andrew Graves of UMS-Wright shared low medalist.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE – Layton Bussey looked down at the plaque in his hands. Nowhere on the award were the words “co” written, and that was perfectly fine with him.

Bussey, the lone senior on White Plains’ golf team, made the most of his final high school round Tuesday. He came from three shots back at the start of the day to shoot 2-under-par 70 and tie first-round co-leader Andrew Graves of UMS-Wright for medalist in the boys Class 4A championship at Hampton Cove.

Hitting what coach Marcus Harrell called some of the best shots under pressure he has seen in his life, Bussey birdied 15 and 16 on the River course to take the outright lead. All he needed was a par at the last and he wouldn’t have had to share the title with anyone but his teammates.

Instead, he three-putted from 50 feet for his only bogey on the back nine to drop into a tie with Graves. His five-foot putt for par — and the outright win — lipped out.

Both players finished at 1-over 145 for the championship, three shots ahead of Oneonta’s Stewart Miller and UMS-Wright’s J.P. Cave, the two other first-round leaders. UMS-Wright won the team title (598); White Plains (641) finished tied for third with Oneonta.

“A (medalist) playoff would have been fun, but you can’t lose this way … but you’d like the chance to win outright,” Bussey said. “I’ve worked super hard and this doesn’t say ‘co-medalist.’ I could be sick about it, but I got him back. I caught him.

“I said even (par) would win. I had a five-footer to stay there and I lipped it out.”

The AHSAA does not play off for medalist in the state finals, although the individual titles are played off in the sectional and sub-state tournaments. White Plains sophomore Colman Hayes lost sub-state medalist honors in a playoff last week at Anniston Country Club.

The Alabama Golf Association, which administers the event, prefers a playoff. Alexandria’s Jordan Gregoria was declared a co-medalist in 2014 and Donoho shared the only golf co-championship in the AHSAA multi-classification era with Houston Academy in 2007 with no playoff.

“I think it’s bull crap,” Harrell said. “I just think when you crown (it’s) a champion not champions. … I can see it being changed in the future.

“I’m sure people would like to play it off, but the bottom line is Layton is walking away a state champion.”

Bussey, the Calhoun County and sectional medalist this year, got “every single thing” he could have out of his round Tuesday. The 70 was the best round of the day in 4A boys; it featured five birdies and three bogeys.

The birdies he made on 15 and 16 were legendary, with precise shots that “very easily could have been very bad.”

On 15 he hit a soft hybrid on his second shot that rolled back to the bottom of the hill creating the green, but pitched up for a 10-inch tap-in. His tee shot on 16 found the perfect distance and left him with a 15-foot putt he liked and rolled straight into the cup.

“I’ve been playing golf a long time and he hit some of the best shots I’ve ever seen down the stretch in all my years of playing and watching golf, some of the most clutch shots I’ve ever seen,“ Harrell said. “The up-and-down on 15, words can’t describe how tough that was. Then he’s got an unbelievably hard par-3 and knocks it stiff.

“Those were two of the best shots I’ve ever seen him hit since I’ve been here. And to do it under that amount of pressure – he knew what was at stake — says a lot about him.”

Then Bussey came to the finishing hole with the lead and his tournament on the line.

His tee ball landed on the side of a mogul. His second came up short of the hole location and his long birdie putt was short by five feet. His potential winning par putt circled the hole and stayed out.

“That putt did everything but go in,” Harrell said. “But it’s like I told him: Don’t keep dwelling on that one shot. You hit 69 other really good shots.”

Individual Top 10

Layton Bussey, White Plains 75-70—145
Andrew Graves, UMS-Wright 72-73—145
J.P. Cave, UMS-Wright 72-76—148
Stewart Miller, Oneonta 72-76—148
Jake Lackey, Westminster Christian 75-75—150
Korlan Trull, Fayette County 76-75—151
Will Patrick, Oneonta 76-76—152
Iturbe Thomas , UMS-Wright 74-78—152
Corey Nolan, UMS-Wright 75-79—154
Matt Johnson, North Jackson 74-80—154
Cameron McCareeth, White Plains 81-83—164
Nathan Griffin, White Plains 80-84—164
Colman Hayes, White Plains 84-84—168
P.J. Sotelo, White Plains 89-84—173

Team scores
UMS-Wright 292-306—598
Trinity 317-320—637
White Plains 320-321—641
Oneonta 312-329—641

Team scores

Providence Christian 301-300–601
Decatur Heritage 318-308–626
Houston Academy 315-314–629
Donoho 339-341–680

Individual leaders
Ike Alexander, Mars Hill 69-69–138
Sam Murphy, Decatur Heritage 76-71–147
Spencer Arnold, St. Lukes 74-73–147
Thomas Ponder, Providence Christian 74-73–147
Hal Dove, Houston Academy 72-76–148
Jack Svensen, Donoho 82-80–162
Jacob Lecroy, Donoho 81-85–166
Robert Clausen, Donoho 86-85–171
Ross Svensen, Donoho 90-93–183
Harrison Hughston, Donoho 92-91–183

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