Hall’s Late Birdies Clinch Third State Title

From the start of the final day of the Junior, Boys & Girls Amateur Championship at Mark Twain Golf Course mother nature gave way to the golfers. Sunshine radiated and wind was kept at bay to let all the youthful players concentrate on the real task at hand, scoring low to win a state title. After the first round yesterday it was apparent who were in contention but that did prevent the few surprises from springing up. Regardless, today was a day champions were made including a repeat champion in Alec Bard or a newcomer in Danielle Fuss and, of course, the Junior Amateur Champion, Gavin Hall.In the Junior Boys Amateur Championship it came down to a battle between two great players. Crowd favorite Gavin Hall started the day three strokes behind surprise leader Art Griffin who shot an impressive 67 yesterday on a day where only Gavin had another sub-par round. Right from the beginning it appeared that the momentum was shifting toward Hall. He was immediately two under through the first five holes but his comeback was stymied after bogeys on both six and seven. Glimpses of a hot streak also came right before the turn when Hall made a 40 footer on nine to get to one under for the front. Griffin, on the other hand, couldn’t quite produce anything consistent on the front but topped Gavin’s birdie on nine with a 10-footer of his own to total an even par 36 on the front nine. At this point the competitors were separated by just two strokes.Thus began an extremely dramatic back nine that came down, essentially, to “a two man race”. As one onlooker described it, “This match is hotter than a pizza pie in an oven.” The action really began on sixteen since both Hall and Griffin battled stroke for stroke on the first six holes on the back, making the exact same birdies, pars and bogeys on each hole as the other. Sixteen changed the game as Hall had a great birdie after hitting his second shot right at the pin tucked in the back left of the green to a few feet from an impossible angle. Griffin got in trouble in a greenside bunker and couldn’t get out well enough to save par, forging the competitors into a tie.On seventeen the unfortunate struck Art Griffin again. In an area clear of debris and brush, Griffin’s tee shot came to rest directly under a small pine branch. Since any attempt to move the branch would likely result in ball movement Griffin had to play it from his obstructed lie. He extracted it within 40 yards of the green but hit his pitch well past the hole and in an overzealous putt for birdie hit it too far past the hole to make par; Griffin bogeyed instead. At the same time Hall hit the green in two and had a long putt for eagle. He ended up with a birdie but the damage was done; Hall was now ahead by two. Finally on eighteen, with little hope to catch up, Art Griffin kept his head up to complete his final par alongside his playing partner Gavin Hall.A match that looked to be forming into one great upset became a classic fight between two stellar New York players. In the end, Hall was victorious and showed everybody, “It’s good to be back.”

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