By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – As he played the 18th hole with a three-stroke lead, Greg Mitchals knew he just needed a bogey.
The Willard golfer played out of the trees on the par-4 hole and got his bogey. Back at the clubhouse, he got his medal as Mitchals claimed his second-straight Central Ozarks Conference championship on Monday at the Briarbrook Golf Course in Carl Junction.
“I played out of the trees a lot today but scrambled super well,” he said. “I made a lot of big putts. It was good to win.”
Mitchals finished with a 5-over 77 and was the only golfer to finish under 80. He birdied two holes on the front nine and made par on five-straight on the back nine to fend off Carthage’s Robbie Sager and Joplin’s Ethan Sage, who finished second and third, respectively, and each shot 80.
“I wish we could have gotten first as a team,” Mitchals said. “We lost by one shot which was rough but we did good for 343. It’s pretty close to our average but I wish we had won.”
That 343 was one stroke behind conference newcomer Joplin, which claimed its first conference tournament in years.
“It’s great,” Joplin coach Jack Pace said. “We haven’t won a conference tournament in probably seven or eight years when we were a member of the Ozark Conference and it feels good to come out here the first year and win conference. Some pretty decent scores, I’m happy about it.”
The Eagles finished sixth last year in the Ozark Conference tournament.
They had two medalists on Monday, with Sage placing third and Fielding Cambell placing ninth with a score of 84. Campbell recorded four birdies, but also double bogeyed three holes.
“They played well and the thing of it is, both of them can play better,” Pace said. “Hopefully at this time it’s coming together. We’ll go to Carthage next week for districts and then sectionals the next Monday at Schifferdecker (in Joplin). Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Sage, the team’s number two golfer, played his best round of the year, Pace said. The rest of Joplin’s scoring came from Wyatt Satterlee, who shot 88 in 17th place and Chris Pryor, who carded a 90 to finish 23rd.
Rounding out the individual top 10 were Nixa’s Sam LaRocca in fourth place (81), Carl Junction’s Tyler Varner in fifth place (83), Willard’s Nathan Maclaughlin in sixth (83), Webb City’s Nathan Ogden in seventh (83), Carl Junction’s Ethan Grayson in eighth (83), Joplin’s Campbell in ninth and Willard’s Brandon White in 10th (85).
In the team standings, Nixa finished third at 347, Republic was fourth at 351, Webb City was fifth at 352, Carl Junction was sixth at 355, Carthage was seventh at 358, Ozark was eighth at 375, Neosho was ninth at 379 and Branson was 10th at 382.