Originally created 05/08/00

Thomson falls short of title



Wren Fowler's sun-baked face said it all.

After 22 holes of golf in 90-plus-degree weather, the Thomson senior's bid for his first Class AAA state championship came up short. Marist's Pete Eskew parred the fourth playoff hole to win medalist honors at Goshen Plantation Golf Club on Monday.

Eskew and Fowler each carded 1-under-par 71s to finish three shots ahead of the field.

In the team competition, Marist won its second straight Georgia title with a 10-over 298, topping Thomson by three shots.

"To say the least, I'm tired," Fowler said. "I've been up since 6 this morning. And I'm out here in this scorching heat. You get used to it in the summertime, but this is the first time of the year I've been in it."

Eskew, a Michigan signee, had a chance to defeat Georgia Tech signee Fowler on the first playoff hole, the 531-yard, par-5 first hole. While Fowler two-putted for par, Eskew missed a 15-foot birdie attempt.

Fowler had the advantage on the second extra hole, the 436-yard, par-4 ninth. After Eskew missed a 10-foot par putt, Fowler faced a 4-foot downhill putt for the win. The putt lipped out and the playoff continued to No. 1.

Eskew lipped out a 15-footer from the fringe, and opportunity was at Fowler's doorstep. However, his putter failed him again as he lipped out a 6-foot birdie attempt.

"When he bogeyed nine, I hit the chip up there and thought I could make the putt," said Fowler, who lipped out a 2-foot birdie attempt on No. 14 in regulation. "Then I missed it, and I was like, OK don't give up. Then I knocked it to three or four feet on the par 5 and lipped that out. By that time I was tired."

Fatigue finally ended Fowler's run as his third shot out of the greenside bunker on No. 9 ran through the green. His fourth shot ran 6 feet by the hole. He made the putt for bogey.

Eskew stuck his approach to within 15 feet and two-putted for the win.

"It's great, especially going out as a senior," Eskew said. "Our second straight team championship, that was the most important thing. It was a special bonus to win the individual thing."

Eskew nearly missed the playoff. The Marist senior was forced to make a 30-foot par putt on the final hole to tie Fowler.

"Kids on my team told me about the team score," Eskew said. "I wasn't really worried about individual. But they said the team score was going to come down to the wire and they really needed my score."

Thomson, in search of its third state title, posted a 301 team score while Marist waited for Matthew Smith to finish his round. Ryan Tyndall and Will Dudley fired a pair of 76s for the Bulldogs, while Justin Napier came in at 78.

Meanwhile, Smith shot a 1-under 35 on the back nine for a 74, which gave the Atlanta private school the three-stroke win.

"Of course, everybody remembers who's the state champion, and very few people remember who's the runner-up," Thomson coach Dale Ricks said. "I'm real proud of the boys. We finished in second place; I can't be real disappointed."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.