Area golfers star at state tourneys
Three girls, two area teams win titles
Everything was different for Chessey Thomas, except the outcome.
The senior, who plays for Lewis and Clark, won her second consecutive State 4A golf title Wednesday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. All she had to do was put a 2-under-par 70 with her opening-round 68 to hold off Kentwood’s Rui Li by two strokes for the championship.
Although the LC girls couldn’t repeat their team title, finishing second, 5.5 points behind Bellarmine Prep, the LC boys won their first. Their three golfers all finished in the top dozen to turn the tables on Bellarmine, defeating the Lions by 7.5 points at Kennewick’s Canyon Lakes Golf Course.
“They just hung in there,” LC boys coach Jim Travis said. “We talked about coming back and possibly surprising the leaders. Just shoot good scores and see what happens.”
In the 3A girls, Mt. Spokane’s Savana Bezdicek edged Holy Names Academy’s Kristin Tan by a stroke to win the individual title at Richland’s Horn Rapids Golf Club.
Last year at the 4A girls, Thomas trailed Kamiak’s Seo Hee Moon by three strokes with three to play on a bright, warm day. But Moon missed a couple of short putts and Thomas birdied the last hole to rally for a one-shot victory.
This year it was Thomas out in front, building a five-stroke lead at the turn on the strength of back-to-back birdies, including a 45-foot putt on the par-4 ninth that gave her a 3-under 33 on a front side played in near constant showers.
“Last year it was mine to win and this year it was mine to lose,” said Thomas, who will play at the University of Tennessee next year. “Either way, it’s tough. Today, the last nine holes, I was just thinking greens and fairways.”
As the sun emerged, her plan seemed to be working, with Thomas stringing together six consecutive pars.
But when Li birdied 15 and 16 and Thomas’ short par putt spun around the par-3 16th hole for her only bogey, the lead was down to two.
“I was standing on (the 17th) tee box and I was thinking, ‘This feels really familiar,’” Thomas said. “But the roles were kind of reversed.”
Thomas, who attends St. George’s but plays for LC because the Dragons don’t field a team, rocketed her drive down the middle of 17, knocked her approach within 15 feet and two-putted to right the ship. She used the same formula on 18, though her chip from just off the green on the 284-yard uphill par 4 rolled 25 feet past the cup.
“I had the heartbeat going pretty good,” Thomas said after two-putting and securing the victory.
Though sophomore Megan Haase shot a 153 to tie for 10th, the Tigers didn’t have enough depth to catch Bellarmine.
G-Prep’s Jenna Speltz also had a 153 while Kristen Hansen of Mead shot 154, tied for 13th.
The Tigers boys had to rally to finally win a state title – their best previous finish was second in 1963 – and then they had to wait about 10 minutes after the rounds were done to find out they won.
“We’re all kind of just in shock,” Travis said.
Peter Gullikson got the rally started with back-to-back birdies to open his final round. He finished his last round as a Tiger with a 70, giving him a two-day total of 145, tied for fifth.
Senior Christian Alfaro, playing his fourth state tournament, shook off a slow start Tuesday (76), added a 73 and tied for 12th along with teammate Robby McKee, who had a 75 Wednesday.
Though Alfaro didn’t feel he played his best, there was a great consolation prize.
“For the first time (golf) feels like a team sport,” Alfaro said. “I went into this week just saying, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ then to win – my heart was pounding.”
Ferris’ Garrett Howard, who shot a 73 Tuesday, finished at 154 to tie for 25th.
At the 3A tournament, Bezdicek started the day tied with Tan atop the leaderboard. But she birdied 3, 4, and 5 – just missing an eagle on one hole – to take the lead.
Bezdicek teed off on 18 knowing she still had a lead, because coach Eleen Northcutt told her, but she didn’t know it was just a stroke.
Both players stuck their approach shots on the 401-yard par 5 within 10 feet, with Tan putting first. She missed. So did Bezdicek, but her 74 gave her a two-day total of 145, one better than Tan.
“I didn’t know I had won until probably 5 minutes after we had finished,” said Bezdicek, who admitted she was nervous heading into the final round. “I really wanted to win this.”
East Valley’s Jenni White added a 91 to her first round 88 and finished 30th.
Scott Kim won medalist honors in leading Hanford to the co-title at Richland’s Mead Springs Course. The first-day leader with a 70 followed with a 72 to win by two strokes. Mt. Vernon tied Hanford for the title with 85.2 points with Enumclaw third at 76.5. Nick Thurston of Mt. Spokane was the only GSL golfer to make the cut, finishing 20 strokes back.
Casey Cox and Drew Cowbrough tied for sixth place at 147 to lead Colville (67 points) to fourth place at Apple Tree in Yakima. Clarkston’s Tyler Carlson was another shot back, tied for 10th. Medalist Connor O’Neill of Washougal shot 140. Bellingham (83 points) won the team title.
Paige Whidbee tied for sixth and Jennifer Sorensen was 11th to help Pullman finish second at Apple Tree in Yakima. Whidbee shot a 78 to finish at 159, 15 strokes behind Alexis Keating of Elma. Sorensen shot a second straight 84. Pullman had 74 points, 30 behind Bellingham, which successful defended its title.
Freeman earned second place as Tyler Barrong and Dylan Maine made the top 10 and two other golfers finished in the top 25 at Columbia Point in Richland. The Scotties had 113 points, 30 shy of Ilwaco, with King’s third at 93.5. Barrong, third after a first-day 69, shot a 73 to finish at 142, six strokes behind defending champion Zach Wanderscheid of Goldendale, who shot 65-71. Maine followed up his opening 75 with a 72 to finish at 147. Freeman’s Jess Wingett was 17th (152) and Ryan McKinney was 22nd (155).
Freeman’s Alyssa Maine, the first-day leader with an 80, improved by five strokes, but defending champion Kelli Bowers of Chelan improved by 14 strokes for a one-shot victory at Columbia Point. Arlee Coleman of Chewelah was fourth after an 83-86. Cascade Christian, on the strength of second-place finisher Alex Howells, 10 strokes behind Maine, won the title with 26 points. Montesano had 20.5.
Colfax won the team title at Tri-City Country Club in Kennewick with 74 points, five more than Bear Creek and 11 more than Northwest Christian. Nathan Putnam of Life Christian Academy followed up his opening 68 with a 65 to coast to a six-stroke win. Nick Mattox of NWC, who was tied for first after the opening round, had a 70 and was third at 140, one shot behind Colfax’s Caleb Bravard, who had a second-round 69. NWC’s Brandon Drake had a second 71 to finish fourth at 142.
Kira Powell of Odessa fired a 68, the only round in the tournament less than 74, to rally to a three-stroke victory. Powell opened with a 77 at the Tri-City Country Club, leaving her third, six strokes off the pace. Two Life Christian Academy golfers, who started ahead of Powell, faded. Defending champion Kristen Rue went 74-74 to finish three back and Kelly Miller went 71-83 to fall nine back.