Notre Dame High School senior Will Armor has played many rounds at Brainerd Golf Course, but none better than the 5-under-par 67 he shot Monday. With anything higher than that from him, the Fighting Irish might not have won the District 7-A/AA tournament.
Led by medalist Armor's eight-stroke victory over his nearest competitor, Notre Dame edged Signal Mountain 316-317 for the boys' team title. Marion County tied Chattanooga Christian at 364, then beat the Chargers on the first playoff hole for the district's third team spot in the Region 4 tournament.
Led by senior Haley Davidson's 79, Signal Mountain had the first-, second- and fourth-place finishers on the way to a 26-shot girls' victory over runner-up Chattanooga Christian's 189. Richard Hardy was third at 227.
The top five boys and girls not on the region-qualifying teams advance to the Region 4 tournament next Monday at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.
Notre Dame will be trying for its fifth consecutive region title.
Armor said his previous best round at Brainerd, which is the Irish's home course, was a 69 during tryouts when he was a sophomore. After opening with three pars, he birdied four of the next five holes. On the other of those, No. 6, he said, he missed a 6-foot birdie putt.
"If I got it on the green," Armor said, "I felt like I was going to make it."
He did have two bogeys on the back side but three more birdies.
"He could've been four or five shots better," Notre Dame coach Jeff Fisher said. "He was just dialed in with his iron shots and left a few putts on the lip or they just missed."
Armor's best support from a teammate was Alexander Riddle's third-place 76. The Irish's other counting scores were Patrick Armor's 84 and Zach Bombassi's 89.
"The kids that shot in the 80s are capable of shooting in the 70s," Fisher said. "Normally they do, but they didn't do it today. That's golf. You see the pros fail to shoot as well as they can sometimes, and they play the game for a living. This was 15-, 16-year-old kids with a lot of pressure on them."
Davidson did not have a birdie in her round, but five consecutive pars helped her build some confidence early.
"I hit it pretty solid most all day," she said.
Davidson added that she made a few putts "outside the makable range" that really sparked her round.
"I rolled in a couple I was really happy about."
Freshman teammate Bethany Burns (84) suffered an unlucky two-stroke penalty because one of her putts struck a flagstick a playing partner was holding but was unable to pull out of the cup. It did not affect her runner-up status. The Lady Eagles, who have won the last three state championships, did not need senior Marli Patten's 88, which was good enough for fourth overall.
"We need to be a little better than that as we move forward," Signal Mountain coach Rodney Mitchell said of Monday's 163. "If we make it through region, we'll have a shot. I can't see being the favorite, but we'll take the opportunity."
The boys' runner-up was Signal Mountain's Sullivan Baker with a 75, and his teammate Jackson Cooper was fifth at 79.
CCS's Lake Johnson shot 78 for fourth. He and Chargers Scott Stevens (80) and Grayson Hammond (83) will be moving on to region play as individuals along with South Pittsburg's Sergei Kellian (82) and Bledsoe County's Lee Cox (83).
Notre Dame's Mattie Strozak finished fifth among the girls with an 89. The other region qualifiers as individuals are Marion County's Payton Coffelt, Grundy County's Hannah Ladd, Bledsoe's Keaton Evans and Van Buren's Kristen McCoy.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.