DACULA — Working at Hamilton Hill Golf Club last summer, North Gwinnett's Preston Harris put his knowledge to good use Tuesday.
The senior dropped six shots off his Day 1 performance to shoot a 75 on the final day of the Class AAAAAAA Boys State Tournament and helped the Bulldogs to a third-place finish. Their 305 on Tuesday was a program best for the state tournament and just one stroke off second-place Walton.
“It was a difficult day out there with the heat,” North Gwinnett head coach Bryan Sellers said. “The scores were a lot better overall, but we had some kids that around (No.) 13, 14, they were gassed with how hot it is today. That obviously affected us down the stretch.
“After not feeling great after yesterday's round, starting hot out of the gate and finishing, I'm proud of them.”
No one was able to derail West Forsyth. The Wolverines won by 10 shots.
Mill Creek, with Brandon Yau finishing tied for third overall, was sixth and Brookwood was 12th.
North moved up a spot after the first round, led by a 74 from Garland Pierce. Harris was just one shot off that pace, a dramatic improvement over his opening-round 81, which wasn't counted toward the team total.
“I think I wasn't really focused right from the start (of the tournament),” Harris said. “I was a little shaky. I was very nervous. But today, I was really excited to go out with a bang, try to pull us through.
“I'm very proud of my team, how we finished coming into the second round."
North was fourth in the team standings after Monday. A quick start from Harris helped spark the Bulldogs. He birdied three of the first four holes and just burned the edge of a birdie putt on No. 5. Harris birdied No. 7 and 11 as well.
“The conditions were good to go out strong,” he said, “and my putting was just on today.”
Playing the course regularly, though, Harris knew getting to the green sometimes requires a little patience. There are a few holes where an aggressive approach won't pay off.
“There's a par-5 on the back side that bends to the right,” he said. “A lot of players try to go for that and cut the corner. I think it's better just to put a nice 3- or 4-wood up the middle.”
Harris was followed by 78s from Jacob Shepherd and Palmer Kahren. Modeling consistency, Rasmus Eriksson, who led the Bulldogs with a 76 on Day 1, also shot 78 and Bryce Fowler had an 80 that weren't needed for the total.
“I can't express how proud I am of them,” Sellers said. “They're great guys with great parents. Our whole team, top to bottom, is an unbelievable group to be around. I'm just lucky to be the coach.”
Mill Creek was led by Aaron Eigenbauer and Matthew Chung, who both shot 75. Chung improved his round by 11 shots.
Yau came into the final day alone in second place overall after an opening 1-under-71, and closed the tournament with a 76.
Brookwood’s Anmol Jhangra tied for eighth at 6-over and Pierce tied for 11th at 8-over.
Walton's Matthew Feste was the low medalist with an even-par 144.