Tiger senior makes it to state in second sport.

To secure his spot as one of the better athletes in St. James High School athletic history, senior Colin Hayes will be competing at the state tournament level in a second sport this coming week.

Hayes will represent the St. James High golf team at the Missouri Class 3 State Tournament Monday and Tuesday at Fremont Hills Country Club in Nixa. He will have a practice round on the course on Sunday.

He reached the cutoff score for state qualification with 15-over-par 87 last Monday in sectional action at the Cassville Municipal Golf Club. Hayes got to sectionals by advancing through the District 3 Tourney at Franklin County Country Club in Washington, shooting 89.

An all-around athlete, Hayes is not a stranger to state competition. As a freshman he was one of the top distance runners in the Four Rivers Conference and advanced to the cross country state championships.

The qualification to the state golf meet this spring was a little of a surprise for Hayes, but not for his coach.

“Making it to state wasn’t realistic to me (at the start of the season); but making it to sectionals was,” Hayes said. “I knew our district was really tough. But some of the players at district didn’t play as well as they have in the past.”

“Remember what I told you in March?” St. James golf coach Kevin Conway asked (he had predicted at that time that Hayes would advance to state). “We’ve been through a little dry spell. Hopefully Colin will help get us back on the track as far as getting individuals to state.”

Hayes is the first Tiger to advance to the state golf tournament since Drew Tucker in 2011.

“Around the conference (meet) everything began clicking,” Hayes said. “I was just making small mistakes; everything was there. My putting was the deciding factor. I didn’t putt well early in the year. My putting and chipping has been the best it’s been throughout the year.”

“Colin is a hard worker,” Conway said. “He’s really worked on his game. He deserves this.

“He’s getting off the tee box and keeping himself out of trouble with a little more distance. And his short game has gotten better to shave off some strokes.”
Hayes knows he’s not one of the favorites to battle for an all-state placement, and that’s fine with him.

“I just want to beat my lowest round of the year and I’ll be happy,” Hayes said. “I don’t think winning a medal is realistic. If I can beat 85 both days, I’d be happy with that.

“I kind of like it (playing a course he is unfamiliar with). I like playing different courses. When you play the same course over and over, you get flustered when you mess up, because you know you should do better there.”

“He got out of district because of his demeanor,” Conway said. “He has a good, positive attitude. And he’s been rewarded for being patient. I really think he’s capable of being in the mid-range at state. He’s shown the ability in some matches to shoot in the low-40s. I think he could go something like 82-82.”