Andrew Paysse wanted his last hole back.
Going into the final hole Wednesday, Paysse thought he had a shot at the lead. But, a bogey on hole No. 18 of the Horseshoe Bay’s Ram Rock golf course capped his day and sent him home with a three-shot deficit.
“The Ram Rock course is very difficult,” he said. “It is one of the most difficult courses that we play all year long, but the first day I was hitting the ball really well. I just bogeyed that last hole and it frustrated me a little bit. It got to me and I said ‘I’ve got to get that shot back.’”
Paysse didn’t waste any time doing that Thursday.
The Belton senior birdied his first two holes and carded a 2-under-par 69 to move into first place at the 86th Texas State Junior Championship. Paysse, who won the UIL 5A State Championship earlier this year, was 5-under-par through 15 holes before a triple bogey on No. 16. Still, though, he takes a two-shot lead into today’s final round.
A lead he thinks he can hold.
“(Winning state) helps a lot,” the 17-year-old said. “I know I have been able to close the deal and I have been here and done that before.”
Paysse added birdies at 8, 10 and 13 and was on cruise control as he stepped to the 16th tee. He pushed his tee shot into the hazard on the right and it took two shots to get back to the fairway. His triple bogey was the only score other than par or birdie on his scorecard.
“I was playing pretty well,” he said. “I hit one bad shot on 16 and got into the bunker ... It is just a really tough hole.”
Conducted by the Legends Junior Tour, the Texas State Junior Championship is a 54-hole stroke-play event featuring a field of 120 boys from across the state.
More than 150 players attempted to qualify for the Championship, which is being ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard, Golfweek and the World Amateur Golf Rankings. They joined 60 players who earned exempt status based on their play throughout the year. The par-71 Ram Rock course is playing 6,811 yards for all competitors.
Jake McCrory of Deer Park, who finished runner-up at this year’s HP Byron Nelson Junior Championship, is alone in second place at 1-over (143). Max Miller of College Station, last year’s George Hannon Junior Invitational champion, is in third at 2-over. Defending champion, and first-round leader, Wes Artac struggled to a 12-over-par 83. His round consisted of more double bogeys (3) than birdies (1).
The field was cut to the low 45 players plus ties, which fell at 16-over-par 158. That left 47 players for today’s final round that will begin at 7:30 a.m. off the No. 1 tee. The leaders tee off at 9:45 a.m.
“I have done a great job of setting myself up,” Paysse said. “I am going into the last day in contention for the title and that is what you practice for. If I play well, I have a chance to win tomorrow.”