A pair of 16-year-olds backed up titles at the Arkansas State Golf Association Stroke Play Championship with top honors at the Bubba Smart Invitational at Pine Bluff Country Club on Thursday.
Ryan Spurlock and Christian Barrett, who won their respective 16-year-old divisions last week at Shadow Creek Country Club in Rogers, earned first-place overall in the Bubba Smart boys’ and girls’ divisions, respectively.
“I played in this tournament the last three years,” Spurlock said. “And I played bad.
“This year I felt comfortable with my game.”
Grayson Jones of Texarkana tested the Maumelle resident’s game with a strong day that had Jones in the lead halfway through the round.
“After the first 11 holes, I was trailing by four shots,” Spurlock said. “After that, I really turned it on. I knew I had to hit some big shots. …
“(Jones) played really well. He played excellent (Thursday).”
Jones and Spurlock both shot 1-under 70s on Thursday, but that was good enough for Spurlock, who had taken a two-stroke lead into the final round, courtesy of Wednesday’s 2-under 69.
In the girls’ division, Barrett had to overcome a two-stroke deficit entering Thursday to edge out Hannah Bakalekos and Taylor Loeb, who both finished two-strokes back.
“I just played smart,” Barrett said of Thursday’s round. “My goal was to not take any stupid shots.
“I wanted to put myself in good situations and just hit the greens in regulation.”
Barrett said she arrived at the PBCC driving range an hour early Thursday to try and improve on her opening round 7-over 78, which had her in a three-way tie for second behind Bakalekos.
“It was a lot better (Thursday),” she said comparing her rounds. “I was on the range an hour early. My putting was better and my drives were a lot better.”
Barrett said she had never played at PBCC until her practice round on Tuesday.
“I thought it reminded me of one of my home courses — El Dorado Country Club,” she said. “I thought if I played smart, I could probably win it.”
Barrett came into the tournament on the heels of winning her age division of the stroke play title and said she can’t wait for the high school season to begin. The soon-to-be senior at Camden Harmony Grove won the 3A state title last year at Mountain Ranch Golf Club in Fairfield Bay.
Spurlock, a soon-to-be junior, topped his age division in Rogers, too, but lost the overall boys’ title in a playoff. Even still, he felt like he had momentum going into the Bubba Smart tourney.
“I’ve been playing solid for the past two months,” he said. “And I just carried it on.”
Spurlock credited his short-game with helping him be the tournament’s only player with two below-par scores.
“Putting, definitely putting,” he said of the key. “Just getting up and down. I knew if I was going to miss the green, to miss to the right so I could chip up and make putts.
“I was definitely making my short putts.”
Next up for Spurlock is the Tom Millikin Memorial Tournament on July 12-13 at Harrison Country Club. He said he played well in the tournament last year but came up just short; he thinks his recent run of success can help put him over the top this time around.
“Oh, definitely win,” he said of his expectations. “I got beat in a playoff there last year.
“So I want to go and win this year.”
Bubba Smart Invitational
Pine Bluff Country Club
Final round; Par 71
(Top five in each division)
10- to 11-year-olds
Ben Brogdon, 83-86—169
Jackson Gilbert, 97-94—191
Josh McNulty, 79-73—152
Devan Mishra, 85-92—177
Logan Stephens, 93-88—181
Andrew Freeman, 97-97—193
Jackson May, 101-101—202
Whit Parker, 74-73—147
Grayson Martin, 75-81—156
Hayden Lassiter, 80-76—156
Grant Shelman, 80-77—157
Braxton Watkins, 78-80—158
Ryan Spurlock, 69-70—139
Grayson Jones, 71-70—141
Chandler Cain, 72-73—145
Jay Trusty, 77-72—149
Reese Nichols, 74-75—149
Josie Roberson, 79-80—159
Olivia Parker, 84-89—173
Anna Pinson, 92-88—180
Reagan Reed, 95-92—187
Christian Barrett, 78-75—153
Hannah Bakalekos, 76-79—155
Taylor Loeb, 78-77—155
Stephanie Leake, 80-76—156
Taylor Reed, 78-83—161