Smith grabs ti­tle

Moon wins record third girls crown

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - ROBERT YATES

Miles Smith (above) worked over­time to reach the fi­nal of the Arkansas State Golf As­so­ci­a­tion Ju­nior Boys Match-Play Cham­pi­onship. As for that fi­nal, no ex­tra work was nec­es­sary. Smith opened the back nine with an ea­gle to jump-start a 4-and-3 vic­tory over Con­nor Gaunt to win the ti­tle at Ea­gle Hill Golf and Ath­letic Club in Lit­tle Rock.

Lit­tle Rock’s Miles Smith had to work over­time to reach the sched­uled 18-hole fi­nal of the Arkansas State Golf As­so­ci­a­tion Ju­nior Boys Match­Play Cham­pi­onship.

No ex­tra work was nec­es­sary for that fi­nal.

Smith opened the back nine with an ea­gle to jump-start a 4-and-3 vic­tory over Con­nor Gaunt of Cabot and claim his first ASGA match-play ti­tle on a swel­ter­ing Thurs­day af­ter­noon at Ea­gle Hill Golf and Ath­letic Club in Lit­tle Rock.

Elizabeth Moon of For­rest City beat Macken­zie Lee of North Lit­tle Rock 2 up to win ASGA Ju­nior Girls Match-Play Cham­pi­onship for a record third time.

Smith, a 2017 Lit­tle Rock Catholic High School grad­u­ate, needed 19 holes to elim­i­nate Thomas DePri­est III of Lake City in the semifi­nals ear­lier Thurs­day.

Gaunt beat Lit­tle Rock’s Hunter Hick­ing­botham 2 and 1 in the other semi­fi­nal.

Smith ended the fi­nal with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 15, a par 4 that played ap­prox­i­mately 450 yards.

“I felt like I played well af­ter nine, com­ing down the stretch,” said Smith, 18, who has signed to play golf at the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas. “I felt like Con­nor might have got a lit­tle bit tired. He’s still a great player.”

Smith parred No. 9 to take his first lead, then holed out for ea­gle on No. 10, a de­mand­ing par 5 that played ap­prox­i­mately 570 yards.

Smith flirted with wa­ter right of the green on his sec­ond shot, a blind layup that fin­ished on an up­s­lope about

20 yards short of the pin. He then lofted a 60-de­gree wedge into the hole for an ea­gle and a 2-up ad­van­tage.

“There’s noth­ing you can do about it,” Gaunt said. “It was a great chip. It looked like it was go­ing in all the way.”

The play­ers halved the next three holes be­fore Gaunt lost No. 14, a 153-yard par 3, af­ter his tee shot found wa­ter.

Smith’s clinch­ing putt on the 15th came af­ter he found the green with an­other 60-de­gree wedge, this from 89 yards.

Smith had en­tered match play as a No. 9 seed af­ter shoot­ing 2-un­der-par 70 in Mon­day’s qual­i­fier. He was the last of the 64 qual­i­fiers stand­ing.

“I had a good feel­ing,” said Smith, the Class 7A in­di­vid­ual cham­pion as a se­nior. “I liked that I was sort of seeded ninth. I felt I didn’t have all the pres­sure on me, be­ing seeded No. 1. I just felt like I could kind of squeeze in there and grind it out.”

Moon, 17, won the fi­nal two holes to se­cure her third ASGA Ju­nior Girls Match Play ti­tle in four years. Moon, who will be a se­nior this fall at For­rest City High School, was run­ner-up last year.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/ THOMAS METTHE

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE

Lit­tle Rock’s Miles Smith de­feated Cabot’s Con­nor Gaunt 4 and 3 on Thurs­day to claim Arkansas State Golf As­so­ci­a­tion Ju­nior Boys Match-Play Cham­pi­onship at Ea­gle Hill Golf and Ath­letic Club in Lit­tle Rock.

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