Nixa golf claims Willard Tournament title

By Don Eskins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

The Ozark Tigers posted a 310 at the Greene Hills Invitational, good enough to win now of the time. But not in 2022.

Coming in two strokes under Ozark, at 308, to claim this year’s Willard tournament championship were the Nixa Eagles.

Nixa’s Meyer Lively and Chandler Burch led the Eagle effort. Lively carded a 74, Burch a 76.

Tigers was Carter Chronister with a 73. They were followed by Kyler Smith and CJ Jackson, both who came in at 77.

Third place went to Monett, who behind the tournament top medalist Jackson Bailey’s 72, fired a 331.

Twenty-one schools competed in the tournament which took place in Willard on Thursday, April 21.

Although Nixa did manage to win on Thursday, it didn’t appear that doing so was in the cards for the Eagles, as the tournament got underway. Something that made hoisting up the tournament’s top prize at the end of the day, very rewarding for their Coach.

“We struggled all day. The greens were tough, the grass was high, we lost some balls and we were assessed a few penalty strokes. This was probably the toughest grind we’ve had all year, ”said Nixa head Coach Jeff Lotz. “But what me happy was the way our kids kept it together. They didn’t get down they just kept playing, and in the end, their efforts and attitudes paid off. ”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE TOURNAMENT

Lotz said that keeping focused on the big picture and pulling for each other has been a trait that has kept his kids competitive throughout the year, especially on Thursday.

“Meyer, our most consistent player, was strong off the tee today. Everything was going right. But he just kept playing, was able to deal with it, and still scored well, ”said the Nixa Coach. “Noah didn’t have the kind of round he was hoping for today. But our other kids picked him up, that’s what good teams do. I’m so proud of these kids, they’re really a very special group of young men. ”

While Nixa got the team win, Monett’s Jaxson Bailey grabbed top medalist honors with a two over for a round of 72. In picking up the tournament’s top individual prize, Bailey edged out Ozark’s Carter Chronister and Reeds Spring’s Ty Cooper who both registered for 73’s.

“The greens were really tough today so I didn’t make a ton of putts. But I hit my driver well and my short game was good, ”said Bailey. “Overall I feel like I played pretty good. I had two birdies on my round of 72 which made me really happy. ”

Reeds Spring’s Ty Cooper was also happy with the way he played.

“I had an Eagle on the first hole which was a real confidence Builder for me. But then I got a few bogeys which was a wakeup call, ”he said. “But my driver was working really well for me which helped me to get back on my game. Putting was my main focus though. It was tough, but all I really needed to do was two putt. ”

Next up for Nixa will be their conference tournament, the COC, on May 2 at Point Royale Golf Course in Branson. According to Lotz, the field looks to be especially tough this year.

“There’s four or five teams capable of winning this year,” they said. “Joplin will definitely be the favorite now. But Carl Junction, Webb City and Ozark will be tough to get by as well. ”

And what must his charges do to walk off the course with this year’s COC title ”

“We’ll have to play the way we’ve been playing all year. Together, one hole at a time, and as a team, ”they said. “If we can do that, win or lose, we’ll be happy.”

Top ‘3’ Scorecards: First Place: NIxa Eagles 308- 1. Meyer Lively 74. 2. Chandler Burch 76, 3. Noah Naugle 79, 4. Johnathan Miller 79 and 5. Jordan Hatman 82.

Second Place: Ozark Tigers 310- 1. Carter Chronister 73, 2. Kyler Smith 77, 3. CJ Jackson 77, 4. Kyle Fitzpatrick 83 and 5. Alijah Hampton 88.

Third Place: Monett Cubs 331- 1. Jackson Bailey 72, 2. David Southard 86. 3. Cal Butterworth 86, 4. Jake Hoyt 87, 5. Cal Butterworth 100.

Top 10 Teams
1. Nixa – 308
2. Ozark – 310
3. Monett – 331
4. Neosho – 335
5. Republic – 336
6. Greenwood – 353
7. Central – 361
8. Mt. Vernon – 388
9. Fair Grove – 391
10. Reeds Spring – 392

Top 15 Medalists
1. Jaxson Bailey – 72 – Monett
2. Carter Chronister – 73 – Ozark
3. Ty Cooper – 73 – Reeds Spring
4. Meyer Lively – 74 – Nixa
5. Cason Bekemeier – 74 – Republic
6. Chandler Burch – 76 – Nixa
7. Luke Gardner – 77 – Marshfield
8. CJ Jackson – 77 – Ozark
9. Kytn Francisco – 77 – Neosho
10. Kyler Smith – 77 – Ozark
11. Aiden Asby – 77 – Bolivar
12. Demarkis Edwards – 78 – Hillcrest
13. Johnathan Miller – 79 – Nixa
14. Noah Naugle – 79 – Nixa
15. Xander Woodward – 79 – Neosho

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