E.A. Sports Today

Just lettin’ it fly

In as an alternate, Hughston takes mental clutter out of his game, joins LeCroy in making the cut in State Am

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BESSEMER — The hardest part about playing golf they say is not trying to stripe a 300-yard drive down a tight fairway, it’s mastering the six inches between a player’s ears.

Anniston’s Harrison Hughston has been fighting that battle the last couple weeks and it’s left him frustrated. He finally let it all go this week and it’s paid off in two good rounds in the state’s biggest tournament of the year and making the cut in the State Amateur.

The Montevallo junior shot 1-under-par 70 in Thursday’s second round at Bent Brook Golf Course and gets to play the rest of the week. His former Donoho teammate, Jacob LeCroy, also made the cut after posting a second-round 68.

Hughston’s two-day total 141 has him tied for 21st, eight shots behind 36-hole leader Trey Rouse of Homewood. LeCroy is tied for 13th (139), six shots off the lead.

The two rounds of par or better were a welcome change from what’s been happening to him on the course.

“I feel like I’ve been thinking my way into a little slump,” Hughston said. “I was swinging it the best I ever had, but I had to convince myself I could play, I wasn’t going to score well.

“In the ACC Invitational it was the same deal. I was hitting it fine, but didn’t play as good as I wanted, just thinking my way into some bad numbers (76-77-74). Everybody’s been telling me the same thing since I started it, it’s in my head. 

“Today I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I had the mindset I’m going to disconnect from the outcome and whatever happens I’m not going to dwell over it. Really, doing that hole-by-hole kind of helped me the past two days. It feels good to kind of turn the ship around and put two numbers together.”

The key to his two rounds here has been making good decisions and avoiding the big number. He had three birdies and two bogeys Thursday and was 2-under until he bogeyed 16. In Wednesday’s opening round, which he completed before weather suspended play with the half the field still on the course, he had two birdies, an eagle and four bogeys.

LeCroy had five birdies and an eagle in his round Thursday. He came within two feet of making a double eagle on No. 1. He played the three par-5s in 4-under. 

Hughston’s frustration had reached a point where he was looking for a break. He got one, unwittingly let it slip away and luckily got it back.

He’s playing in the field this week as an alternate. His missed qualifying by a shot, but with a birdie on his last hole at Canebrake it got him in a good spot to get a spot.

A spot opened and an AGA official texted him at 8:30 Friday morning the spot was his if he replied by 5 p.m. Well, he was playing in the ACC Invitational, then went to pick the range and didn’t look at his phone until 6:30, so the spot was gone.

“I felt like I was getting beat down,” he said. “I needed a break.”

It came two days later. Another withdraw occurred and he got another text Sunday morning. It didn’t take him long to respond this time. And now, by making the cut, he has an exemption into next year’s State Am and is looking for a good finish.

“I’m excited about the weekend,” he said.

Alabama State Am

At Bent Brook GC (par 71)
Trey Rouse, Homewood6370133
Brantley Scott, Dothan7065135
Jack Goldasich, Birmingham7164135
Max Johnson, Lillian6670136
Will McFadden, Mobile6769136
Connor Newton, Auburn6769136
T-13 Jacob LeCroy, Munford7168139
T-21 Harrison Hughston, Anniston7170141
Did not qualify (cut 145 and better)
Kenny Okins, Anniston7476150
Sawyer Edwards, Anniston7875153

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