Mansfield High golfer Landon Ernst finished fourth in the Class 6A individual standings at the UIL boys state golf championship back in late April – the tournament in which the Tigers finished second as a team – and Ernst continued a fine run of form with a 12th-place finish at the recent 44th Southern Junior Championships.
The prestigious tournament, held this year at University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, featured 168 players in the field. That field is cut after the second of three rounds.
“My dad and I were talking about it and he was talking about making the cut,” Ernst recalled. “I said, ‘Dad, I’m trying to win; I can’t think about making the cut.’ I had high hopes for it. I definitely knew I had to compete. I wasn’t going down there just to make the cut.”
Consecutive opening rounds of 73 ensured Ernst would make the cut, and he was in contention on the final day. A final round of 74 left him nine shots behind the tournament winner, but well ahead of more than 50 others who survived to the final day. Ernst says while the result looks good on paper, he was actually disappointed with the finish, primarily because he gave away three shots on the final two holes.
“I played very well and solid, but I didn’t finish great,” he said. “It lets me know I can compete with them, but I also just have to move on from that tournament. I have a lot left and that doesn’t make or break my summer. I have more tournaments I have to prepare for, I can’t just go based on one good finish.”
It’s probably a misnomer to say Ernst is on summer break, because he rarely takes a break – at least from golf. Whether it’s tweaking his short game, working out or hitting balls, Ernst does something golf-related almost every day.
“Summer is definitely a break from school, but at the same time I feel like I’m still working. There’s a lot of things to prepare for,” he said. “I feel like if I take days off, that’s just a day of less preparation. Once I’m preparing for a tournament, I know it’s cliché, but there’s really no days off. You can’t take days off or the next guy will catch you.”
While golf is typically an individual sport, as it is over the summer, the Tigers are making sure to keep the team in the picture. Peyton Coursey, Dax Wilson and Chase Wilson all played in the Southern Junior Championships as well, and the group made it a family affair.
“We played the practice round together, we had dinner together and warmed up together,” Ernst explained. “They’re still my teammates and I still talk to them a bunch when we’re down there.
“Even though it’s individual stuff in the summer, we still have that goal to win state, so we know that even in the summer when we’re doing individual stuff we know we have to work hard,” Ernst added.