EVANS, Ga. – Home course advantage wasn’t enough as Lakeside lost by one stroke to Marist in the GHSA Class AAAA boys state golf championship Monday at Jones Creek Golf Club.
“When you lose by one you feel like it’s all on you,” said Lakeside senior Sam Odi, who shot a 1-over 73 for the Panthers. “You look at the score and it might not look that way, but I feel like I missed a lot of putts that I normally make. I made bogey on the last hole. I feel like it’s all on me.”
Odi was not alone in that sentiment. Junior Emmanuel Kountakis shot a team best 72 that tied for third overall, but it was a triple bogey on the par-5 fifth hole that he lamented at the end.
“We lost by one and we all can look at the things that went wrong,” Kountakis said. “Just one putt on the whole team and we would have narrowed it down. But we finished second place.”
Lakeside felt like the favorite playing on its home course where it won the Region 2 championship over Columbia County rival Greenbrier.
But Marist came in with a balanced squad that was unfazed playing the underdog. The difference was the way Marist closed, with No. 1 player John Quirk setting the tone as the first guy in by draining a 12-footer for par on the 18th hole that eventually proved decisive. Jack Larkin shot 72 for Marist which included a stellar 32 on the front side.
“I think it’s an upset,” said Marist coach Ryan Hodges, who is leaving the program after nine seasons to coach at Wesleyan. “Johns Creek was No. 1 in the state. Lakeside is always good and plays here. Greenbrier is good. I felt like those four teams had the inside track and in 18 holes anything can happen. We were altogether solid.”
So was Lakeside, but the closing 18th hole proved to be pivotal. Odi posted bogey on 18 to settle for a 73. Sophomore Russell Sabol had a chance to clinch the match despite a double bogey on the 16th hole, but after hitting into the fairway bunker on 18 he took another double and finished with 78.
Frank Perhonish also shot 78 while senior Jack Gibbs shot 79 and Andrew Colligan 86.
“It’s tough,” said Kountakis. “We were hoping to win it. This is a big surprise for us.”
Johns Creek was the only team to have all six players shoot in the 70s, but settled for third two back of Lakeside.
Greenbrier (312) finished fifth just a shot behind Starr’s Mill. Zach Tully (74) and Taylor Guilbeau (75) were the top scorers for the Patriots.
Lee McCoy, of Habersham Central, shot a 4-under 68 to take medalist honors. McCoy, who has signed to play for Georgia next season, played in his first GHSA championship after moving up from Clearwater, Fla., for his senior season. He finished sixth three consecutive years in the Florida state championships.
“It was a good day,” said McCoy. “That was my first bogey-free round in a couple months. I putted really well for the first time in awhile.”