Thursday February 11th, 2016 10:07AM

Region 7-AAA boys golf: Mitchell leads Wolves to first-ever region golf title

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
OAKWOOD -- If Taylor Mitchell's football career doesn't pan out, he may not have to look far for a fallback plan.

The Buford senior, known for his prowess on the football field, showed off his links skills Tuesday winning the Region 7-AAA boys golf title, and in the process led the Wolves to their first-ever region golf championship at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course.

The Davidson football-signee fired a solid 4-over 76 in rainy conditions to hold off teammate Steven Wysocki (78) and White County's Garrett Rowland (79) for the low-medalist honors.

"He thinks he's a football player just out playing some golf. But he could play college golf. He's very talented out on the course," Buford coach Justin Johnson said. "He's been solid all year but this was probably his best round of the season."

Mitchell seemed surprised to find out he had outdueled the region's best talent playing out of the No. 3 slot for the Wolves. He had five bogeys to go with 12 pars and finished his round in fitting fashion with a birdie on the Par 5 9th on the Village course, his 18th and final hole.

"It was one of the better rounds I've played this year. But honestly I didn't come in thinking I had a chance to win it. I just wanted to put a low score on the board to help us get back to state," Mitchell said. "My short game was real good I thought and I made a bunch of par putts. It feels good to win it but I'm a little shocked, really."

With the region title the Wolves will automatically qualify for the Class AAA state tournament next month in Thompson at the Belle Meade Country Club.

North Hall (343) and White County (345) qualified for the Sectionals next month in Moultrie by shooting 350 or below as a team. Dawson County's Hunter Burt (83) qualified for Sectionals as the low medalist on a non-qualifying team.

Teams had to score a collective score of 350 or lower to qualify for the Class AAA Sectionals in Moultrie on May 5. Dawson County just missed out shooting a 352 as a team.

The front-nine, played on the School course, proved challenging to say the least, especially with rain and wind accompanying the field most of the way. No one shot under-par and Wysocki led the field after shooting a 2-over par 38.

Wysocki bogeyed No. 1, No. 5, and No. 6 to go with a birdie on No. 7 and five pars in a slight rain. Mitchell and Rowland each fired 3-over 39s to sit one shot back heading into the final nine holes.

Buford's Ben Burnette had the early lead at even par after the Par 3 fourth but struggled over the next five holes to finish at 10-over 46 at the turn.

After Burnette found trouble on the Par 5 No. 5 with a triple-bogey, Burt and Mitchell had the lead at 1-over heading to the sixth. But Burt posted back-to-back double-bogeys to fall off the pace.

Burnette, however, would rally on the back nine firing a 1-under to finish with an 81, good enough to finish in a fourth-place with North Hall's Hunter Young.

"Taylor and Steve played well all day but I thought Ben probably won us the tournament the way he played on the back nine," Johnson said. "To shoot a 1-under was outstanding. It was a team effort. These guys really wanted to get that first (golf) region title."

Final team standings:
1. Buford 323
2. North Hall 343
3. White County 345
4. Dawson County 352
5. East Hall 380
6. Banks County 399
7. West Hall 424
8. Fannin County 450

Individual standings:
1. Taylor Mitchell, Buford, 76
2. Steven Wysocki, Buford, 78
3. Garrett Rowland, White Co., 79
4. Ben Burnette, Buford, 81
4. Hunter Young, North Hall, 81
6. Hunter Burt, Dawson Co., 83
7. Jake Phillips, Dawson Co., 85
8. Brennan Dougherty, White Co., 86
8. Clay Hoffman, North Hall, 86
10. Brennan Manson, North Hall, 87
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