NORTH AUGUSTA — Fox Creek golfer Colin Trahan sat on the clubhouse lead for a couple of hours Monday at the Class AA state championship tournament before finally a lower score came in to knock him from the top spot.
Trahan's even-par 72 was second to Oceanside Collegiate's Rye Tifft's 2-under 70, and Fox Creek head coach Mark Thomas had a short and sweet message for his senior:
Trahan embraced the challenge of playing the role of the hunter in his final round as a Predator, and he captured the state championship with a bogey-free 5-under 67 that was by far his best round ever on Fox Creek's home course at Mount Vintage Golf Club. His 139 total was five clear of Tifft for the title, the perfect capper to his high school career.
"Game on. It was 'Hit every shot like it's your last shot,' to be honest, and it basically was when I got to the last hole," Trahan said. "I walked up to the tee this morning, just gave everything I had until that last putt there from 6 feet to save par on the last hole. It's fantastic. It was a great day."
Trahan tracked down some of those birdies that eluded him Monday, particularly on the front nine. He birdied Nos. 1, 6 and 8 on the Chester nine to turn in three under, then birdied his 10th and 17th – Nos. 1 and 8 on the Vintage nine – for a 67.
He expected there would be bogeys – there weren't. He didn't expect there to be five birdies – there were.
Trahan said Monday he was hoping for another even-par round, then said following his round Tuesday that another 72 wouldn't have been enough to win – it would've forced a playoff, but he didn't know that at the time. Thomas had gotten word of Tifft's second-round 74 but chose not to tell Trahan.
The 67 is a new career low at Mount Vintage in a week full of personal records for Trahan. His 1-under round in the practice round was his previous career best, and his second-best round there was the 72 Monday.
It was a day where Trahan either hit good shots or got lucky when he didn't. On the 10th hole, for example, he hit his drive off the toe of the club and had 180 yards into the green before stuffing a 7-iron to 3 feet for birdie. On 17, his tee shot looked to be sailing well to the right before getting kicked dead to the left from the trees – he made use of the good break with another birdie. On 18, a chunked approach destined for the front bunker landed safely on the green.
Trahan thought maybe last year would be the year to win a state championship, but he was disappointed by a first-round 77 and then didn't get to play the second day as the round was washed out.
This time, though, everything came together.
"It's just good golf. It's just playing the course like you know the course. That's what I did today," he said. "Last year, I didn't play the course like I knew the course – I played like a whole new person that never had ever seen the course before in his life.
"But these two days have been just absolutely incredible, absolutely incredible to me. And I couldn't ask for any more out of Mount Vintage Golf Club. I couldn't ask for any more out of Fox Creek High School. It's been truly amazing."
Fox Creek posted a 645 total to finish in third place, six behind runner-up Southside Christian and 31 behind Christ Church. The team state title is the seventh in a row for the Cavaliers.
"We wanted second. No way to sugarcoat it, so we're a little disappointed," Thomas said. "Young team, it's good experience for them and it's gonna do nothing but put a chip on their shoulder to come back with."
Oceanside Collegiate finished fourth at 667, and Ninety Six (671) was fifth.
Rounding out the top five individually were Southside Christian's Tillman Alverson (149) in third and Christ Church's Walker Jennings and Buford's Caleb Henson in a tie for fourth at 151.
Trahan was joined on the All-State team by freshman Evan Prickett and senior Bryce Bessey, each of whom tied for 10th at 161. It's the second year in a row on the All-State team for Bessey.
"Sending off two seniors that I've been with all four years, it's bittersweet. But I couldn't have pictured a better way for them to go out," Thomas said. "An All-State, and then Colin's hard work finally just coming to fruition.
"I told him this morning after that first tee shot, I said 'It's your time here.' He went out and executed. That's all. He was poised the whole way. Never flinched when he was down two to start the day. It never seemed out of reach for him, and he knew it. There's something really cool about seeing somebody work that hard and it paying off – it's awesome."