Smith grabs title
Moon wins record third girls crown
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.
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.