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Sierra Bezdicek almost keeps 3A golf title in family

Sierra Bezdicek did everything she could Wednesday to keep the individual State 3A girls golf championship in the family.

But the Mt. Spokane freshman was ultimately done in by a nasty double-bogey on the 315-yard par-4 15th hole at Liberty Lake Golf Course and came up a couple of strokes short in her determined effort to capture the title her older sister and senior teammate, Savana, won last spring.

“So close,” Bezdicek said, after posting the best round of the day – a 2-over-par 72 – and learning she had finished second to Peninsula’s Rachel Lewis, who was playing in the threesome behind her. “I felt like to win I would have to play under par, but I mainly just wanted to play a good round and be happy with how I played.”

Bezdicek, who opened with a round of 74 on Tuesday, finished with a 36-hole total of 6-over 146, which was a stroke behind Lewis, whose 74 on Wednesday left her at 145. Decatur’s Amanda Beyke and Shorewood’s Cassie McKinley tied for third at 147, followed by Mercer Island’s Chelsea Saelee, who was alone in fifth at 151.

Saelee and her Islanders teammates captured the team title in a big way, rolling up 90 1/2 points to easily outdistance runner-up Mt. Spokane, which finished with 77.

Bezdicek, who started the day three strokes behind first-round co-leaders Lewis and McKinley, put herself in the title chase with an even-par 35 on the front nine of the par-70 Liberty Lake layout, which was playing just more than 5,600 yards.

She even held the lead for a short time on a couple of occasions, but spit it away for good on the tricky 15th, which doglegs right to an elevated green.

Bezdicek pushed her drive to the right into the deep rough and failed to punch out far enough to give herself a clear shot to the green. She attempted to play her third through a gap in a tree, but nicked a branch and landed short and to the right of the green, from where she was unable to get it up and down.

“At that point, I wasn’t even thinking I was close to being in the hunt,” she said. “I was just trying to make it through.”

Lewis, a junior and fourth-place finisher last year, didn’t think she was in the hunt any more, either, after a bogey-bogey start and disheartening double-bogey 7 on the relatively benign par-5 12th.

“I was really nervous,” Lewis said, when asked about the shaky opening to her final round. “I wasn’t really focused, but then after those two early bogeys, I just got mad. And once I got mad, the nerves kind of went away and I started playing.”

Then came the 12th, where Lewis “whiffed it around” on her way to making double.

“At that point, I just figured I was out of it and thought, ‘Whatever, just play golf.’ ”

And from there, Lewis went on to birdie two of the last four holes to hold off Bezdicek, who used a hot putter to make a couple of brilliant par saves on the back nine.

Savana Bezdicek shot 79 on Wednesday and finished ninth at 164 in her attempt to defend the 3A title.

The next highest local finishers were North Central’s Brigid Rypien (188), who was 35th, and University’s Kelsey Ochoa (189), who was 36th.