Panther golf team claims bronze finish after 20-year absence from UIL State Tournament

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Hitting the links for the final time this season, the Bullard Panther varsity golf team competed against the best golfers in Texas at the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament, held Monday and Tuesday, May 14-15, at Apple Rock Golf Course at Horseshoe Bay, in Marble Falls.

“I’m very proud of the boys for making it to State and being able to use their talents and abilities to bring home the third place trophy and team medals,” said Tim Moore, BHS golf head coach. “The first task they had to accomplish was coming together as a team to make it out of District and Regionals, as well as the second task being working together at State to finish high in the standings.”

On their way to the State event, the Panthers began their prowl by competing at the District 15-4A District event, where Bullard was able to easily claim the first place finish and District Championship title with a team total score of 592, allowing the team to advance to the UIL Class 4A Region II Regional Golf Tournament.

At the UIL Class 4A Region II Regional Golf Tournament, held in late April, the Bullard team swung its way to success, finishing the two-day tournament in third place overall with a team total score of 631, punching the team’s tickets to the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament.

Alphabetically, Panther golf team members advancing to compete at the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament included Jaxson Bellar, Garrett Esposito, Hayes Esposito, Harrison Hopson, and Jensen Smith. Bullard was also represented at the State event by Colton Kelly, serving the team as an alternate player.

On the first day of the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament, Bullard proved to be highly competitive on the fairways and greens, swinging and putting their way to a team score of 323 and sitting in third place as a team, behind Monahans (306) and Argyle (317).

“We were actually a little bit scared after the first day of the tournament,” said Moore. “We went 9-8-6-6-6 for about four holes. We were sitting behind Monahans and Argyle, so we were focused on trying to climb up during day two.”

With the dawning of the second day of the State event, the Bullard golf team worked hard to keep competitive on the scoreboard, as four of the five players carded lower scores than they did on the first day of play.

As the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament ended, Bullard’s team was awarded the third place finish and bronze team medals and trophy, finishing the event with a team score of 639, behind first place and State Champions Monahans (615) and second place and State Runners-Up Argyle (626).

Individually, Panther golfer Hayes Esposito was able to place in the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament’s Top 10 rankings, finishing in sixth place with a two-day score of 153 (77-76), and earned the recognition of First Team All-State golfer.

Other members of the Bullard Panther varsity golf team competing at the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament included Garrett Esposito, with a score of 163 (78-85); Jaxson Bellar, with a score of 164 (84-80); Harrison Hopson, with a score of 164 (85-79); and Jensen Smith, with a score of 165 (84-81).

The chance to participate in the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament for Bullard marked the end of a 20-year long drought for the program, which was also coached by Moore during his first tenure at Bullard High School before going on to Jacksonville, Chapel Hill, New Summerfield, and The Brook Hill School, and then returning to Bullard.

“I’m very fortunate to have been able to come back to a place I consider to be my home,” said Moore. “I think we were able to make it to State because of the right motivation and effort put forth by good kids. When you have good kids, you can accomplish a lot. When they bought in to the practices and hard work, the rest was there for us.”

Moore said the Panther golf program has held the keys to success over the past few seasons, with the team being able to benefit from the strong foundational support of the program in a big push to State this season.

“This program has been set up to be a successful program for the past two seasons, at least,” said Moore. “We were able to meet the challenge together, come together as a team, bring in a new coach this season, work out the kinks in personalities, and achieve a high level of success as a team, which makes it even an even greater achievement.”

Bellar, the team’s lone senior member, spoke about the experience of the entire Panther golf team advancing to the 2018 UIL 4A State Golf Tournament, compared to the two chances he received to participate as the lone Bullard golfer previously in his high school career.

“It was really special to compete at State with the entire team,” said Bellar. “I’ve been twice before this as a medalist, but it was definitely more fun to have the rest of the team there and competing together. The first day, we had Hayes and Garrett play really well, which carried us throughout the day. We were able to turn it around on the second day and card some low scores and finish as the third place team and bring home the trophy. It was fun because we hadn’t brought back a team sport trophy in 20 years. We all butted heads with Coach Moore at the beginning of the season because we never had a coach that was that tough on us, but he really cared about his players. When we bought into his system, we really started competing hard and winning. It’s really great to end my senior year this way.”

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