AUSTIN — Andrew Paysse could not duplicate what he did Monday.
But he did not need to. Paysse fired a 5-under-par 67 on Monday to share the first-round lead in the 5A boys golf state tournament, but the Belton junior had difficulty recapturing the magic in Tuesday’s final round at Morris Williams Golf Course.
But a steady, unflappable Paysse, who needed a playoff to capture the No. 3 medalist berth in the Region I tournament two weeks ago in Lubbock, overcame a bogey on his next-to-last hole and managed to scrape together a 71 — just enough to capture the title.
“It’s what I believed. It’s what I’ve been working my butt off for,” Paysse said. “It’s incredible. I’m so honored to win this.”
Thirteen players in the 72-competitor field shot lower than Paysse’s 71 on Tuesday. Paysse even shot the highest score in his four-player group en route to his 6-under 138. McKinney Boyd’s Vincent Whaley used a birdie binge on the second nine to shoot a 67, narrowly missing a chance to play Paysse in a playoff.
In the end, that first-round 67 gave Paysse the separation he needed to withstand the charges of Whaley (72-67), Klein Klotz (70-69) of team state champion Austin Lake Travis and Brad Able (73-66) of The Woodlands.
Jake Ezell shot 66 and Lake Travis didn’t count a score higher than 71 in the final round as the Cavaliers shot an 11-under 277 to overtake Mansfield for the championship in their 5A debut.
The Lake Travis girls shot consecutive 299s for a 598 that edged Austin Westlake by seven for the championship.
San Antonio Johnson’s Taylor Coleman, who competed in last week’s LPGA event in Irving, fired a 67 for a 138 total that beat two-time defending champion Sierra Sims of Westlake by three for the crown.
The right strategy
Belton coach Jim Hellums said he and Paysse discussed their gameplan before the final round, with the key point being that anything around a 70 or 71 would make Paysse difficult to catch.
First-round co-leader Cole Barnett entered state as Mansfield’s No. 5 player and he ballooned from a 67 to a closing 79.
“Looking at the first round he had, we just wanted to (make the) turn at even par, because he likes the front nine, then try to birdie the par-5s and par everything else,” Hellums. “Pars are good. Honestly, that’s why he’s a state champion. I can’t be more proud of him.”
After waiting out a one-hour fog delay, Paysse played the back nine at recently renovated Morris Williams and birdied the par-3 12th, par-4 16th and par-5 17th. Those, though, were countered by bogeys at Nos. 13 and 15 following pulled tee shots and missed par putts after scrambling to get back in position.
However, he then sprayed his second shot on the par-5 second to the right and his ball became plugged along the muddy bank of a water hazard, about 95 yards from the hole.
Not completely sure it was his ball but not allowed to pick it up to check, Paysse said he “hacked down as hard as I could” on the shot and the mud-caked ball — it was his — rolled onto the front of the green. He two-putted from 30 feet for the first of six straight pars.
The problem was that Boyd’s big-hitting Whaley wasn’t making pars — he was racking up birdies. After an even-par first nine, the Georgia Tech signee birdied Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 to reach 5 under through 15 holes, slicing Paysse’s advantage to two shots.
“I knew Andrew was leading, and when he missed that 2-footer on No. 8, I knew I was one back,” Whaley said.
The final stretch
On the final hole, Whaley drilled his drive long and down the left side, then Paysse missed the No. 9 fairway to the right for the second straight day.
He launched a 9-iron over the trees and the ball stopped 20 feet left of the pin. Whaley then hit his 125-yard approach shot over a bunker to within 9 feet, meaning that a Whaley birdie and a Paysse par would send the pair of medalists into a sudden-death playoff for the championship.
Paysse’s birdie putt lost speed and curled away but left him within tap-in range. Whaley’s must-have, left-breaking birdie putt just missed on the low side, and he settled for par to cap a sharp 67.
Klotz, who took second in a playoff after making a hole in one the par-3 12th, gave himself a birdie opportunity and a chance to win on the 18th green, with an 18-foot putt off a ridge in the back-right corner of the green. However, the putt was too slow and didn’t break enough, stopping 2 feet from the cup.
Finally, after two grueling days of competition and delays, Paysse had earned his state championship.
“My mind was set on winning,” Paysse said. “I don’t know what I would have done if (Klotz) had made that.”