GOLF: Clements finishes fourth, Clay Hinton ninth at State Am (06/21)

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One area golfer fell a few spots while another with area ties climbed the leaderboard in the final round of the PNC Bank Kentucky State Amateur Championship on Thursday.

Former John Hardin star Karsten Clements, who entered the final round in a tie for 13th, climbed nine spots to finish fourth after carding a 3-under 69 at the 6,853-yard, par-72 Bowling Green Country Club.

Clements had six birdies in his round, finishing with a three-day total of 214 – nine shots back of Manchester’s Tyler McDaniel, who is the youngest player to win the State Am. Two-time defending champion Patrick Newcomb of Benton placed second with a 209.

Former Elizabethtown star and Transylvania University senior Clay Hinton, meanwhile, didn’t have quite the final round he envisioned. Hinton double-bogeyed the first and seventh holes and bogeyed holes 14, 15 and 18 to fall seven spots into a tie for ninth place with Pikeville’s William Branham.

“I just didn’t hit the ball well. I didn’t score well today,” Hinton said. “It was just one of those days where I couldn’t get anything going. I hate that it happened today.”

After seeing his name atop the leaderboard following Tuesday’s opening round on a course he was familiar with, Hinton thought he would close well.

But after that first double-bogey, Hinton said he couldn’t get back on track.

“I just hit a bad second shot and it went in the water,” he said. “I tried to fight and grind all day, but it was just one of those days where I was hitting a lot of bad shots where I didn’t need to be hitting them.

“It was very frustrating, but I’ve got to look at the positives,” Hinton added. “I still finished in the top 10 and it was a great experience to play in the last group. Hopefully I can be in the same situation next year and do better than I did today.”

Hinton said pin placements were more difficult to manage Thursday. Instead of playing it safe, Hinton was aggressive – and it cost him at times.

“They really tucked the pins today and the greens were really fast and firm,” he said. “You had to pick your shots heading into the greens, and I short-sighted myself a little bit. I tried to stay aggressive. I wanted to get something going early. I was trying to hit some shots to the pin that I should have probably stayed back on. But it’s a learning experience for me.”

And so was playing in the final threesome with McDaniel and Newcomb.

Hinton said McDaniel was on his game from the outset, only making one bogey on the front nine and carding five birdies to finish 4-under for the day.

“It was impressive,” Hinton said of McDaniel, a Clay County junior. “He did not miss many shots, but when he did, he’d make a big chip or a big putt. He played his game from start to finish. He was there the whole time. He had his foot on the pedal from the first hole, and he just never let up.”

Hinton hopes to parlay his experience into an even better outcome next summer, when the State Am moves to Cherry Blossom Golf & Country Club in Georgetown.

“It was fun to be in the last group, even though I didn’t play well,” Hinton said. “It was a good experience and I was happy to be there. I’m absolutely pleased. If you would have told me at the start of the week that’d I’d be in the top 10, I’d take it in a heartbeat. I gave myself my chance; I just didn’t play well.

“I haven’t played (Cherry Blossom), but I’ll be looking forward to playing and giving it a run,” he added. “I’m going to try and keep moving up. Hopefully I’ll get in the top five next year.”

Other area results:

n Elizabethtown’s Mason Haynes finished in a nine-way tie for 31st with a three-day total of 223. Haynes shot a 76 in the final round.

n Elizabethtown’s Stephen Montgomery and Garrett Hinton were in a seven-way tie for 61st with a 229. Both carded a 78 Thursday.