Brownwood sophomore finishes tournament at 3-under par

MARBLE FALLS — Having played competitive golf for more than half his life, 16-year-old Jaryn Pruitt has experienced plenty of tournament championships. But none mean more to the Brownwood Lion sophomore than the gold medal he brought home Tuesday from Horseshoe Bay.

The leader after 18 holes, Pruitt ran away from the rest of the field over the final 18 holes to earn the UIL Class 4A Boys Golf State Championship. After carding an even par round of 72 Monday, Pruitt followed with a closing 3-under 69 en route to a five-stroke victory over runner-up Sam Bennett of Madisonville.

The two best rounds of the tournament belonged to Pruitt as he finished with a 141 total, followed by Bennett's 146, the result of consecutive 73s. Midlothian Heritage's Will Traylor placed third, 10 strokes off the pace, with rounds of 77 and 74 for a 151 tally.

“There hasn't been a tournament I've played that was this big in my life,” Pruitt said. “It really means a lot to win it.”

Pruitt — a two-time district champion and two-time regional qualifier — was quick to thank all those who have stood by him on a journey that began in elementary school.

“I wouldn't be here without the support of players, coaches, family, friends — everybody that supported me,” Pruitt said. “This just feels great.”

Pruitt, who missed out on the state tournament by one stroke his freshman season, advanced to state this year after finishing tied for fourth at the Region I-4A event at Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock. Earlier in the spring, however, Pruitt won a regional preview tournament at Shadow Hills.

Due his successes throughout the season, as well as throughout his golf career, Pruitt felt he had a strong chance to come away from the state tournament with a medal.

“I just wanted to come down here and play my game,” Pruitt said. “I knew if I played my game I had a pretty good chance.”

And play his game he did.

Following Monday's opening round, Pruitt owned a one-shot advantage over Bennett, the defending state champion.

“The first day, I just played an average day of golf,” Pruitt said. “My first tee shot was good and my last tee shot was OK. I got some bad breaks the first few holes but I managed to keep my composure and finished the round strong.”

In charge of the tournament at the midway point, there was no looking back for Pruitt, who eagled the seventh hole Tuesday and finished the front 9 at 3-under par.

“I missed a couple of putts I should have made, but I was hitting everything pretty close,” Pruitt said. “I saved some good pars. I was just trying to keep my composure and I was able to keep it together.”

While pressure could have mounted over the back 9, Pruitt kept his cool and cruised to the finish.

“I didn't think about what would happen if I didn't play well on the back nine,” Pruitt said. “I just thought to myself to keep going and whatever happens, happens.”

Two years of high school remain for Pruitt, who has achieved the highest level of success at this level. So what's Pruitt's next goal?

“Hopefully to do this same thing again next year,” he said.

Arygle (312-321=633) won the 4A boys team state championship over silver medalist Fredericksburg (320-326=646) and bronze medalist Monahans (330-319=649), which defeated Robinson (327-322=649) in a third-place tiebreaker.