The final four holes for Andrew Paysse on Tuesday were almost a nightmare.
Bogey. Bogey. Double bogey. Bogey.
Fortunately, the defending Class 5A state champion from Belton had been even-par when he hit those holes, and his closing round of 5-over 77 after Monday’s opening 71 was good enough to easily win the District 8-5A boys golf tournament at Stonetree Golf Club.
“Up until about 15 I felt great,” Paysse said. “I was really rolling and off to a great start. I was having a really good day with the putter and that kind of saved me. It bailed me out of some shots. Overall, I was pretty pleased with how I played.”
Led by Paysse’s 148, Belton captured the team title with a 626, 20 strokes ahead of Waco Midway. Temple finished fourth at 699, behind Copperas Cove’s 668.
“We felt like we didn’t have any pressure in this tournament at all,” Paysse said. “We were trying to go play our games and we knew if we just played to our potential we would have no problem advancing to regionals, and that’s what we are trying to work for.”
The top two teams and top two other individuals advanced to the 5A Region I tournament next Monday and Tuesday in Lubbock.
Tuesday’s conditions were far from ideal, with a sustained wind of 29 mph and gusts up to 38 mph. Add in difficult pin placements, and the conditions were a nightmare for most of the golfers.
“With these conditions, that 322 is not a bad score,” Belton coach Jim Hellums said of his squad’s closing score. “These were some of the toughest conditions. It was windy, dry, the close-cut greens were very fast and some of the pin placements were hard to get to. Did we make some mistakes? Yeah, but they did a good job.”
After an opening round that saw 12 golfers break 80, only four did on Tuesday. Paysse shared the best round of the day with Midway’s Blake Stock and Copperas Cove’s Drew Dewald. Stock and Dewald tied for second, and Belton’s Mathew Lawyer shot a 79 for a total of 152 to finish fourth.
Dewald and Harker Heights’ Logan Fox claimed the individual regional berths.
Paysse said his key to playing as good as he did in the tough conditions was understanding that he couldn’t worry about what was out of his control.
“It was real gusty, and you didn’t know if it was going to gust or be in kind of a lull,” the Texas A&M signee said. “You just had to try to keep the ball as low as you could and you have to know how to respond to shots that get caught in a gust. You can’t get mad because it’s really not your fault. You just try to recover from it and keep the ball down.”
Now Belton’s focus turns to Lubbock and the Region I tournament at the Rawls Course at Texas Tech.
“We’ve spent a lot of the last four years ranked in the top 10, but those other teams are as good as we are or better,” Hellums said. “We just want to be in the top three spots in region to get to state.
“Once you get there, you have a chance and that’s what you are playing for.
“Overall we’re very happy. We’ll be happier later on in April if we finish what we are trying to accomplish.”