Originally created 05/08/00

Hybl falls to third with 74



Absolutely nothing went right for Madison County senior Ryan Hybl on Monday as he attempted to defend his Class AAA state title at Goshen Plantation Golf Club.

Putts weren't dropping, his tee shots were erratic, and his iron play was inconsistent at best.

That said, Hybl -- playing in the day's first group -- still managed to give himself a chance.

Yes, his game is that good.

Regarded by many to be among the top five junior players in the country, Hybl scrambled for a 2-over par 74 that gave the University of Georgia signee a third-place finish in the 97-player field.

"I played terrible. I just couldn't get anything going," said Hybl, 15th in the latest Golfweek junior rankings. "It was a big deal for me to try to defend the title, and I expected myself to do a lot better than I did out there."

With good reason.

Coming off last year's 3-under 69 at Dalton Country Club that gave him medalist honors, Hybl was the prohibitive favorite heading into Monday's tournament.

After posting a 3-under 69 Saturday and a 4-under 68 Sunday during practice rounds on Goshen's 6,722-yard layout, Hybl was full of confidence as he approached the first tee shortly before 8:30 Monday morning.

But bogeys on Nos. 3, 8 and 9 offset back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, and a three-putt bogey from 30 feet on the closing hole "just topped off my day," he said.

"If I would have putted better, I could have gotten into the 60s again," Hybl said. "I got off to that slow start (3-over on the front) and never got it back. If one or two putts fall here or there, my score is right there with a real good chance to win."

Marist's Pete Eskew took medalist honors with a 1-under 71, using a par on the fourth playoff hole to edge Thomson's Wren Fowler for the individual title.

Hybl, who played in the PGA Tour's Greater Hartford Open last summer -- he missed the 36-hole cut -- after winning the American Junior Golf Association's Player of the Year award in 1998, was in the center of a four-way recruiting battle this time last year.

Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all pushed hard for Hybl, who decided to stay home in Athens and join the Bulldogs' program.

"I recruited him for three years," said Georgia assistant Jim Douglas, who coached at Richmond Academy from 1993 to '96 before joining Chris Haack's staff in Athens in '97. "He's been one of the top two junior players in the country the past two years, so we expect good things from him.

"When you have the No. 1 junior player not only in your state, but basically right down the road, let's just say it was extremely good news when he called us to say he was coming to Georgia."

Reach Mike Garbett at (706) 823-3349.