As Jeff Tobin saw it, the “kind of crappy spring” on the West Side was just training for the final round of the State 4A boys golf tournament Wednesday.
Wind, rain and Hangman Valley’s tough-to-read greens confronted the veteran coach’s three Kamiak Knights who survived Tuesday’s cut.
But none of it mattered as the trio – Chris Hatch, Joe Fryer and Matt Kornegay – played well enough to lift the Knights to their third title in the past six years – all under Tobin’s tutelage.
Kamiak qualified four golfers for the tournament but only the three made it through the first day, leaving little margin for error.
“It was an uphill battle, that’s the way I perceived it,” Tobin said after Kamiak had edged last year’s champion, Bellarmine Prep, 92-88.
Hatch (76 on Wednesday) finished tied for eighth at 154, Fryer (76) and Kornegay (75) were 10th and tied for 11th, respectively, and that was just enough.
The Knights’ solid play – Tobin’s description – on a not-so-solid day for golf – the leaders finished in a downpour – gave Kamiak its first large-school boys title since 2008, the second of back-to-back championships.
Jackson High junior Kyle Cornett will have a chance to equal that accomplishment next year. After shooting a tournament-leading 74 on Wednesday, he bettered that by three strokes despite admitting to finding Hangman’s greens “difficult” because of their break.
His 145 total bested runner-up Li Wang of Sammamish’s Eastlake High by two strokes.
Cornett thought the key was his front side – a one-under 35 – and a well-struck wedge that set up a birdie on the nearly 600-yard par-5 16th.
“It felt good to shoot a good round in these conditions because it was tough both days, especially when the rain came in (Wednesday), it was really nasty,” he said.
“I wanted to shoot 2-under, but with the weather it was looking less and less like that was going to happen. I was able to birdie 16 to get to 1 under and parred the last two.”
Wang put the pressure on early with three consecutive birdies to start the second day, but bogies on 12 and 13, par 4s that run parallel to each other, ultimately were the difference.
Nothing made a difference for defending champion Dom Francks, the Olympia High senior who won last year at the Creek at Qualchan and is headed to Stanford next year.
He followed up an opening round 78 with Wednesday’s 81, which he described to playing partner Trevor Risman as “my worst round in 2 1/2 years.” The 81 included a triple-bogey on 18 that had Francks, the pre-tourney favorite, holding his head in his hands as he waited to sign his scorecard.
Sophomore Eric Ansett of Ferris High was the top local finisher with back-to-back 78s and a 156 total. The sophomore started Wednesday 1 under through the first 10 holes, but four consecutive bogies on the back derailed any individual hopes.
“It’s a good experience,” he said. “Playing at state is always a good experience even if you don’t really play well.”
And even if the conditions are less than perfect.
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