Emmanuel Kountakis thought his high school career was coming to a close.
Playing his final hole in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA championship, the Lakeside senior soaked in the last hole of regulation with his playing partners.
“Walking down 18,” Kountakis said, “I told the folks I was playing with it’d be the last hole I’d play in high school.”
Fortunately for Kountakis, he was wrong. After enduring a weather delay, he finished his round with 70 – a score good enough to extend his high school career into a sudden-death playoff.
The Augusta Chronicle Boys Golfer of the Year, Kountakis birdied the first extra hole to win medalist honors. He claimed his second state title in two years; he helped Lakeside win the team title in 2012.
“It was nice,” he said. “I really wanted another state ring, especially my senior year. It was a good finish to my high school career.”
Kountakis posted a 35.57 stroke average for his nine-hole prep matches during his senior campaign. In the region tournament, Kountakis moved to 3-under on his round before finishing with 75. Lakeside coach Jody Hilley said his star player was torn up over his performance.
“He felt like he let the team down,” Hilley said. “He’s just a team player. He’s more concerned about the team than about himself. He’s been a big pick-me-up guy.”
Kountakis, who will play golf in the fall at Mercer, got off to a slow start in the state tournament.
He rallied later in his round, but at No. 17 he missed a 12-foot birdie putt. Then, he waited on a rain cell to pass.
When he returned, Kountakis lipped out a 15-foot birdie attempt at No. 18. On the first playoff hole, he teed off first, blasting a drive down the middle at the downhill, par-5. From 200 yards out, Kountakis hit a 6-iron just left of the green. From 50 feet, he chipped up to tap-in birdie range for the win.
“He won it under great pressure,” Hilley said. “It was a great playoff atmosphere.”