Just call him “Shoeless Briggs Berry.”
As he is prone to do on occasion, Berry took off his shoes for the final four holes – plus a couple shots on the previous hole – and shot 1-under par during that stretch.
When he sank a 16-foot birdie putt on the final hole, it gave him a one-hole match-play victory against Jordan Piety for the Hood County News Junior Golf Championship at Hidden Oaks Thursday.
Berry removed his shoes to step into the muddy bank of the creek on the par-5 14th hole. Facing certain disaster, he hit his shot to within 15 feet of the hole, from where he two-putted for par.
“That was a good break,” said Berry.
Meanwhile, Piety bogeyed the hole and the two were deadlocked. It stayed that way until Berry’s wining putt on the 18th.
The shot on 14 wasn’t the only time Berry bailed himself out. Down by a hole on the par-4 No. 10, he hit his second shot well past the green and into some shoulder-high brush and weeds.
Instead of dropping, he opted to hit out, and got close enough to one-putt and salvage par. It left him just one hole behind.
“That’s probably the best par of my life right there,” said Berry.
“I had a couple of opportunities to put it away and just couldn’t capitalize,” said Piety, who was the tournament’s top seed after winning the two July medal-play events.
“He hit good shots, and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
The two appeared headed for a playoff after Piety hit a pair of recovery chips on the 16th and 17th hole that came within inches of going in. Meanwhile, Berry missed a pair of short putts on those same holes.
“That’s usually the strongest part of my game,” said Berry of his putting, adding that on 18 he “Just swung, hoped and prayed.”
Piety built a two-hole lead through five holes, Berry pulled within one on the sixth, and Piety went back up by two on the seventh. It was the last hole he would win.
Piety and Berry live within a half mile of each other at Pecan Plantation. Both are juniors, Piety at Cleburne and Berry at Granbury, and they are good friends who play frequently.
“It’s always like this when we play, neck-and-neck,” said Berry.
“But Jordan’s been playing great lately, and I think a lot of people thought he’d win today.”
Berry, in fact, narrowly made his way into the tournament, which was to originally feature the top eight players in a points system kept throughout the first three tournaments. Piety was the top seed and Berry was tied with GHS teammate Zach Wall for eighth, but Wall owned the tiebreaker.
Then, when some players dropped out of the tournament because of personal conflicts, Berry was added to the field.
Piety got a bye in the first round, as did second seed Garrett Parrish of Cornerstone. Berry, meanwhile, defeated Harrison Knight 5 and 4, followed by a 5 and 4 win over Parrish to reach the final.
Piety defeated Wall in the semifinals 3 and 2 after Wall had won his opening round 9 and 8 over Acy McGehe.
“I couldn’t quite do it today, but it has been a great summer,” said Piety.
“This is a good ending to the summer,” said Berry.
Along with the match-play championship, the younger divisions and those who did not qualify for match play competed in a medal-play tournament.
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