PARIS - The silver lining for Fleming County's Jordan Hughes is he'll make a return trip to the KHSAA state golf tournament in Bowling Green next week.
The rough part is how he'll end up going there as the runner-up individually in the 8th Region boys' golf tournament.
Hughes had a putt lip out in the first sudden-death playoff hole against Grant County's Ryan Mitts to give Mitts the individual title.
Both players fired a seven-over 79, in what was playing as a tough course at Houston Oaks Golf Course in Paris. Hughes was even through 10 holes, triple bogeyed No. 11 and started to lose a few more strokes to bogeys over the next couple holes to get him to the seven-over round.
After all scorecards were turned in, the two found themselves at the top of the leaderboard and would head to the Par 5, No. 1 to start the sudden-death playoff.
"I didn't think I had a chance at first and learned what everybody was shooting and said, 'Well I might have a chance at winning this'," Hughes said.
After Mitts hit the fairway on his drive, Hughes crushed his drive about 40 yards past Mitts into the left rough. Mitts second shot came up about 40 yards short of the green while Hughes went right of the green into the rough on his second.
"I knew I needed to hit a good drive to have a good chance at eagle and try to make a birdie," Hughes said.
Hughes' angle to the cup was met with a lot more difficulty as a bunker was in-between his ball and the hole. His third shot cleared the bunker, but ended up short of the green. He'd then chunk his fourth shot, placing his ball on the fringe from about 20 feet away from the hole, facing a tough par putt.
"Third shot I thought I hit a good shot, fourth one I knew I really didn't hit the greatest shot in the world and was kind of disappointed in that one...a lot," Hughes said.
Meanwhile, Mitts' third shot rolled just past the hole for about a 10-foot birdie putt. He'd miss the birdie and two-putt for par.
On the par attempt, Hughes had the right read and speed, but the ball just didn't want to settle in the hole as it hit the right edge of the hole and rolled around before going left of the hole, giving the title to Mitts.
Golf is a brutal game...Hughes putt lips out and Grant County's Ryan Mitts is the 8th Region champ: pic.twitter.com/voGjFdSlx2— Evan Dennison (@EvanDennison1) September 25, 2017
"After I saw him miss for birdie, I knew I had to make this one. I put my best stroke on it, it looked good and I thought it was in," Hughes said.
With the second place finish, Hughes still qualifies for the state tournament as one of three individuals not on the top two teams to advance.
The sudden-death playoffs weren't finished yet though.
Mason County's Bryan Walton and Bourbon County's Blaine Snellen would need an extra hole to determine the third and final individual qualifier for state. Walton and Snellen both fired 12-over, 84's in their rounds to get there.
After both hit the fairway on their drives to open up the playoff on No. 1, Walton came up about 75 yards short in the right rough, while Snellen was about 25 yards ahead, also in the right rough.
Walton's third shot came up short of the green and his fourth got him within about 10-feet of the hole for par with a tough downhill putt. Snellen hit his third shot about 20-feet past the hole to set him up for his birdie putt. Snellen's birdie putt was about three feet right of the hole, capable of an easy par putt while putting the pressure on Walton. Walton's par putt rolled past the hole about eight feet. He was able to sink his bogey to put the pressure back on Snellen, but Snellen calmed himself and sank the putt to qualify for state, leaving Walton on the outside looking in.
Bourbon County's Blaine Snellen qualifies for state with a par on the first sudden death hole. pic.twitter.com/PudJB4MWdZ— Evan Dennison (@EvanDennison1) September 25, 2017
"I just hate it for Bryan. He's just a grinder and it will take him a little time to get over this," Royals coach Chad Mefford said. "Just super proud of him, he's one of those kids you want for four more years and we'll miss him bad. The good news is he'll have a choice, he's good enough to play four more years if he wants or he's a really intelligent kid. His future is bright regardless, we wanted him to sneak in there today but it just didn't happen."
Hughes, Snellin and Harrison County's Lucas Sullivan were the three individual qualifiers to make it to Bowling Green next week. Sullivan fired a nine-over 81.
As far as the two teams to qualify for state, Grant County walked away with the 8th Region team title with a team score of 326, beating the field and second place Highlands by 18 strokes with a 344. Bourbon County placed third with a 358 while Mason County finished fourth with a 366 and Fleming County rounding out the top five with a score of 369. Augusta finished 12th with a team score of 479.
For the Royals, Walton led the way with the 84, following him were Spencer Magee with an 88, Mason Butler with a 94, Evan Schumacher a 99 and Kaden Grooms a 102.
"If the winner shoots a 79 it shows you how tough the course was today," Mefford said. "We knew it was going to be hard for us."
Walton's a senior, but the remaining four will be back with the team for at least the next two years with Magee being a sophomore, Schumacher a freshman and Butler and Grooms eighth graders.
"We're just so young. We're a couple years away. This was good for them, we needed it and we'll be back. We're hoping this experience will help the young ones," Mefford said.
Fleming County was paced by Hughes' 79 while Hunter High shot a 95, Logan Hughes a 96, Devin Leet a 99 and Samuel Johnson a 128.
Augusta was led by Sam Appleman's 92. Following him were Joseph Mains with a 127, John Paul Cordle a 129, Preston Philpot a 131 and Noah Teegarden a 137.
St. Patrick placed two individuals in the tournament, Evan Kalb shot a 121 while Emerson Day shot a 135.
Grant County and Highlands along with Hughes, Sullivan and Snellen will open up state tournament play at the Bowling Green Country Club on October 3.
"I'm hitting the ball really good, I'm just hoping I can keep hitting it the way I am. I didn't putt the best so will have to improve on that," Hughes said as he gets ready to enter state.
Full team and individual scores can be seen below or online at maysville-online.com/sports.