PRATTVILLE — And to think, Jacob LeCroy has taken professional golf lessons for only two years.
Whatever Wayne Flint is teaching the Donoho senior has clearly unlocked potential. LeCroy shot a 2-under-par 70 at Robert Trent Jones-Capitol Hill on Tuesday and came from a one-stroke deficit to make it back-to-back individual Class 1A-2A state championships.
LeCroy shot 2-over-par 146 (76-70) for the tournament and beat Red Bay’s Codey Cleveland by two strokes, becoming the 28th player in AHSAA history — and first from Calhoun County — to win multiple state championships. UMS Wright’s Bobby Wyatt holds the record with four, and three players have three.
Donoho's Jacob LeCroy talks individual title, Donoho's team finish. pic.twitter.com/wXuwTVFDwc— Joe Medley (@jmedley_star) May 14, 2019
LeCroy also led a Donoho team to a second-place finish after nearly not having enough players to qualify for team competition this season. All this came a year after he and the Falcons won state titles at RTJ-The Shoals.
“It hasn’t caught up to me,” LeCroy said. “I was hoping we’d win as a team, obviously.
“I remember on hole 10, I’m sitting there. Our day was just OK, and I knew we’d probably still be a few back, and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to put us on my back. I’ve got help us. I have to do something crazy on this back nine,’ and I was kind of disappointed in myself that I didn’t do that.”
Donoho shot 358 as a team Tuesday, nine strokes better than Monday but not enough to catch North Sand Mountain, which turned Monday's six-stroke lead into a 15-stroke victory.
Donoho gets its AHSAA runnerup trophy. pic.twitter.com/vOMm78G0LJ— Joe Medley (@jmedley_star) May 14, 2019
Donoho finished 72 strokes better than Brantley, which won their substate last week but lost key players who also play baseball. Brantley played in 1A baseball finals Monday and Tuesday in Montgomery.
“We’re just frustrated because we felt like we had a good enough team to win,” Donoho coach Garrett Burgess said. “It’s one thing, if you’re competing and don’t think you have a chance, but I felt like we were the best of the three teams here.”
Donoho’s Harrison Hughston shot 78-81—159 to finished in a tie for fourth place. Holden Abernathy (89-89—178) finished 10th, and Bradey Goodson (124-130—254) rounded out Donoho’s scorers in 20th.
And lastly, the final shot of a high school career that will likely land Donoho's Jacob LeCroy in the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame one day. pic.twitter.com/j7pAe3Ol4d— Joe Medley (@jmedley_star) May 14, 2019
Donoho lost Jack Svensen and Buddy Ray from its state-title team of a year ago. The Falcons initially had three players out for this year’s team but talked Goodson into playing, giving them enough players to qualify for team standings in tournaments.
“I didn’t think we were going to have a team when the season started,” Hughston said.
The Falcons have a champion, however. LeCroy’s second-round improvement included a par on No. 3, the same hole he five-putted Monday.
“I struggled with the green speed yesterday,” he said. “I hit a lot of good shots today. I was happy with how I played. It could’ve been better. I struggled reading the greens.”
Donoho's Jacob LeCroy gets his low-medalist hardware. pic.twitter.com/3Fo410Sw50— Joe Medley (@jmedley_star) May 14, 2019
Burgess said LeCroy’s second-round play befit the way he’s played all season.
“The way he’s played over the course of the whole year, 70 is about as bad as he should play, for the most part,” Burgess said. “He’s just been so steady all year that he’s helped everybody else get better.”
Imagine what collegiate golf might do for LeCroy at South Alabama.
He is a two-time all-county basketball selection, but he’s known golf was his game since seventh grade. Older brother Hunter introduced him to golf when Jacob was 6 and they lived at McClellan.
Their dad, Lewis, followed friend Ott Chandler’s encouragement to play golf, as well.
“I happened to be OK (at it),” Jacob said. “I played a lot of baseball growing up, but I just kind of stuck with it. I went to a few tournaments as a 9-, 10-year-old, and it just kept escalating.”
Jacob’s game has spiked the past two years, after he started taking instruction with Flint, a PGA pro and director of instruction at Highland Park.
“I started going to Wayne Flint too late, and that’s my fault,” he said. “I didn’t take a single lesson until two years ago, coming up on three.”
The two work together once every two or three weeks. Flint texted Jacob after Monday’s first round.
“He just said, ‘Keep your head up,’” Jacob said. “Keep it going, and go out there and get them tomorrow, and I did that today.”
Flint praised Jacob’s diligence in improving his game. The two worked for nearly the first six months retraining the trail arm in Jacob’s swing, which helped Jacob get his body right.
How much has Jacob improved?
“He’s an awfully good high school player, one of the better ones I’ve taught over the last 8-10 years,” Flint said. “He rivals some of the best players I’ve taught that are out on tour.”
As for what’s next, Jacob starts preparations for college golf, at South Alabama. He hopes it’s the start of something, not the last phase of his golfing pursuits.
“I hope to just keep playing golf,” he said. “I’m definitely trying to go to the next level after college golf. I mean, why not try? You’ve got the world in front of you. Why stop now?
“I’m going to try like crazy to make that a reality.”