A year ago, Mitchell Davis captured Medalist honors at the Boys State Junior Championship and as the 1-seed rolled into the Round of 16. That’s where Davis’ run ended abruptly as he struggled in a 7&6 loss to eventual champion Sam Jean. This year’s edition, the 92nd
Boys State Junior Championship held at Purgatory GC had a different ending for the rising Senior at Chesterton High School.
“My goal is always to win,” said Davis about his mindset coming into the championship. “I had full confidence that I could come in here and win, but I was struggling a little bit so I wasn’t sure what to expect.” Davis grabbed the 8-seed after qualifying rounds of 74-75 and started to feel his game come around a bit. “I ended up hitting the ball pretty well during stroke play and that fed into match play,” said Davis. Davis won his first three matches handily before turning the tables on this year’s Medalist Jeff Doty winning 3&2 in the Quarterfinals. After a 5&4 win over Peyton Snoeberger in the Semifinals, Davis was set for the Championship Match.
On the other side of the bracket was 2-seed Ethan Shepherd who had that morning defeated Clay Merchent in a long 21-hole match. Shepherd, a recent graduate of Center Grove High School was coming off a top-20 finish at the Indiana Amateur the week prior. In a twist, both Davis and Shepherd are committed to play golf at Indiana University, Shepherd this fall and Davis a year from now. “I’ve never actually played with him,” said Davis of his future teammate. “It was cool to see and play with him.”
After Shepherd took an early 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-4 2nd
hole, Davis won four of the next five holes to take a 3-up lead through eight. In what became a match of runs, Shepherd answered with his own streak and the pair were back All Square after the 12th
hole. Davis responded again with a birdie at the par-5 15th
taking a 1-up lead that he would carry into the final hole. On the par-5 18th
, Shepherd reached the green in two, while Davis found a greenside bunker. Davis splashed out to about three feet and with Shepherd unable to convert his eagle attempt, the last hole was halved with birdies making Davis the champion.
“It means a lot,” said Davis of the victory. “This is a tournament that I felt I had a really good chance of winning last year and fell short.” As he glanced at the list of Past Champions, Davis added, “You look at the people on those lists and some of them are really great golfers,” he said, mentioning some by name. With Davis’ name added to that list, maybe a future champion will someday look and think the same of him.