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Gainesville battles its way to region title in golf
Lumpkin County's George wins individual title in playoff
Lumpkin County High’s Aaron George watches his drive from the No. 6 tee at Chattahoochee Golf Course during Thursday’s boys region 8-AAA golf championship.

Region 8-AAA
Team standings

Gainesville    305*

North Hall    315*

Stephens County    318

Lumpkin County    322

Johnson    323

Oconee County    324

White County    336

Walnut Grove    348

Franklin County    351

West Hall    376

Monroe Area    453

Chestatee    461

* qualified for state meet

If Bryson Worley could think of one drawback to the way his Gainesville boys golf team played Thursday during the Region 8-AAA championships, it would be that it wasn't exciting.

The Red Elephants, for the most part, kept the ball in the fairway, put up four scores of77 or lower without a lot of flash, and won the region title by 10 strokes with a score of 305 at the Chattahoochee Golf Course.

"We try to play boring golf," Worley said. "The guys were all calm, steady and just rocking along all day long.

"I'm very happy with how they played today."

Meanwhile, North Hall survived an up-and-down day on the course to shoot a 315 and capture a second-place finish and also earn a spot in the Class AAA state meet on May 2, also at Chattahoochee.

Individually, Lumpkin County senior Aaron George repeated as region champion by finishing in a three-way tie with a 73, then winning in a playoff hole against Stephens County's Clint Shaw and Johnson's Luke James.

George had to win the region title to earn a spot in state as low medalist since his team did not qualify for state, which breaks a three-year streak of state appearances for the Indians.

Gainesville also got a great performance from Carson Brown, who stepped into the lineup and shot a 77 when its No. 1 player Will Frankum was unable to play due to strep throat.

Frankum warmed up on the driving range before play began, but knew that playing may cost his team a shot at the region team title.

Given the circumstances, Gainesville's team depth came in handy with eight players that Worley feels comfortable playing at the varsity level.

Red Elephants freshman Grant Lasseter was also key with his team-best 75.

"Our team is deep enough to pull together and still be able to win," said junior Parks Brown, who shot a 76. "We have a young team, but everyone is good enough to be our No. 1."

Though the Red Elephants pride themselves on playing conservatively, Reeves Bell (77) put an eagle on his scorecard when he chipped the ball in from a green-side bunker on No. 8.

North Hall coach Robert Mills was pleased to see the mental toughness his team displayed after things started out quite discouragingly.

Andy Bracewell (77) rebounded from needing four shots to get out of the bunker on one hole by sinking a 30-foot putt for double bogey. Then he knocked down a six-foot putt for eagle on No. 8.

And North Hall's Hunter Young rebounded from shooting a 47 on the front nine with a 38 on the backside to have an 85, which counted toward the team score.

Mills said Ryan Matthews was consistent all day by keeping the ball in play, then making his next shot.

Jackson Berry's score of 78 also counted toward North Hall's region runner-up finish, making it now six trips to state in the past eight seasons.

"I'm pleased and excited with how we competed today," Mills said. "It just shows that our team doesn't like to lose and that they are really tough mentally."

George also had to be mentally tough to win the region's individual title after shanking his tee shot on No. 1 into the woods, taking a penalty stroke and finishing the hole with a double bogey.

Even though George has played a handful of tournaments in a sudden-death situation before, it wasn't a comforting feeling when he had to go right back to the scene of his disastrous double bogey to win it all.

"No. 1 was the last hole I wanted to play in sudden death," George said.

After four birdies in regulation, George was relaxed by the time he reached the playoff hole and nailed his tee shot down the middle of the fairway, followed by a wedge shot to about 8 feet from the cup and then a two-putt for par and the region championship.

George's best hole of the day was a birdie on the par-5 15th.

After hitting a tee shot about 280 yards, he hit his fairway shot about the same distance to around the green, then was up and down for four. He felt confident after his first hole that he would still be able to make a run at the region title.

"I knew that I had 17 holes left and that I could still be in contention," George said.


Regional events