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Gainesville High's Spencer Ralston finishes with 15-under par at The Invite
Red Elephants senior lost by one shot to Turk Pettit of Lee-Scott Academy (Ala.) in 5-hole playoff
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Spencer Ralston was playing some of his best golf Saturday, even with a quick turnaround before attending prom.

On Saturday, the Gainesville High senior finished off a two-day total of 15-under par at The Invite on his home course of the Chattahoochee Golf Club.

Ralston was hitting blistering tee shots and was solid with the putter through both days and five playoff holes Saturday, before losing by one shot to Lee-Scott Academy (Ala.) junior Turk Pettit, who earlier this week won the Class AAA private school state title in Alabama.

“It was great getting to play with Turk,” said Ralston, who shot a 9-under par on the opening day. “We really feed off of each other on the course.”

Ralston’s opening-round 63 was just one shot off the record at Chattahoochee.

During the second round, Ralston closed strong with an eagle on No. 7, his 16th hole of the day, and with a birdie on each side of his two on the par-4 hole. Trailing by two shots heading into the final round, Pettit had eight birdies on his scorecard during a bogey-free round.

“It feels good to come up here and win in such a good field of players,” said Pettit, who is already committed to play golf at Clemson. “I feel like I didn’t really have any bad shots today.”

Ralston drew the biggest cheers when on the par-4 seventh hole, his fairway shot from about 75 yards one-hopped into the hole for eagle.

Despite coming from different states, Ralston and Pettit have a long history playing against one another. Just last week, they shared a room together during the Junior Invitational in Graniteville, S.C.

So when the field was pared down to the two in a sudden-death playoff, the chatter continued to be friendly in a display of two elite golfers. According to Pettit, it’s Ralston who usually comes out on top when the two are playing against one another.

On the fifth playoff hole, Pettit closed it out with a shot from the left side of the fairway uphill to the green that came to rest close enough to the cup on No. 18 to make the birdie putt. Ralston’s tee shot on the final hole was considerably longer, but his second shot came down in the bunker in front of the green.

The five playoff holes turned into a great display of phenomenal talent and great concentration.

Both parred the first hole, then birdied the second. On the par-3 third hole, both golfers made short par putts. For the fourth hole of the playoff, the playoff went to No. 8 and saw both golfers putt in for birdie in front of a large group of fans watching from a line of golf carts behind the green.

On No. 8, Ralston, who had his future University of Georgia coach Chris Haack in Gainesville to watch, had a tee shot about 330 yards, then his second shot came to rest on the cart part to the right of the green, earning a drop for relief.

His third shot with the wedge bounced off the back of the cup the second time it touched the ground, setting up his birdie.

Despite only playing Chattahoochee once previously, the two-time Alabama state champion seemed comfortable, keeping his shots in the fairway and finishing strong with his putter. In the team standings, Lee-Scott, a private school in Auburn, Ala., won with a two-day total of 18-under par, which was 10 shots clear of second-place Columbus. Marist earned third place with a 6-over par, one shot ahead of the Red Elephants.

Lee-Scott Academy won its fifth consecutive state championship in its classification earlier this week, according to Pettit.

Davis Thompson, of Lee-Scott Academy, was third individually with a 7-under par. Ryan Hogan was second for Gainesville with a 75 both days to finish at 6-over par.

Gainesville’s final event of the season is the Class AAAAA state championship meet on May 16 at Bartram Trail Golf Club in Evans.

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