Earlier this week, I watched many of the area’s top prep golfers for about 12 hours at three tournaments at three different courses.
Here’s a look back at my week at the, uh, office.
As I was about to file my article on the Washington District 8 4A tournament on Wednesday night, a text message popped up on my phone. Kellogg girls coach Simon Miller was updating me on senior Mercades de Young, who had been admitted to the hospital with a fairly large kidney stone.
This was one day after Kellogg had concluded a satisfying march to the program’s first state title and four nights after de Young visited the emergency room with severe pain in her side. In between, de Young shot the best round of her life, an 84 at The Highlands, and helped the Wildcats win the Idaho 3A State title by 65 shots.
“I’m speechless,” Miller texted. “Didn’t think I could be any prouder.”
Hang around Kellogg’s team for a few hours and it becomes apparent the girls desperately wanted to knock off Weiser, which beat the Wildcats by four strokes to win the 2012 crown, and send Miller out with a banner in his last season as head coach.
Senior Kaceelyn Pouttu, who would go on to win her fourth individual state title, led in more ways than one. Pouttu and de Young did yoga moves on the range prior to the first round, trying to loosen up de Young’s back. At that time, doctors thought she was dealing with a muscle problem.
Earlier in the season, Pouttu put together a notebook with swing tips for de Young.
“I put in stuff like, ‘If your ball is going right, here’s what you need to do; if it’s going left, here’s what you need to do,’” Pouttu said.
Pouttu was 2-under in her last 27 holes, roughly 10 of them in lousy weather. She won four state titles by a combined 77 shots.
“She’s extraordinary and so are her teammates,” Miller texted.
Two Sierras dominated Greater Spokane League golf this season. Lewis and Clark’s Sierra Kersten edged Mt. Spokane’s Sierra Bezdicek for player of the year honors. Bezdicek won the award last year, as well as a state title.
The good news is they’ll be back next year for what should be another entertaining season. Bezdicek is a junior, Kersten a sophomore. They went their separate ways for districts and dominated – Kersten winning by seven shots in 4A, Bezdicek by 22 in 3A.
Their state goals?
“I just want to be happy with how I play,” Bezdicek said.
About 24 hours later, Kersten said, “I’m not thinking about a place or anything, just do the best I can.”
Tip of the cap to:
Mead boys coach Paul Peters. Shortly after a three-way playoff for the last state berth ended at the 4A tournament, Peters mentioned that it’s the first time in his 26 years as coach that a Panther won’t be going to state. That’s quite a streak in a district that doesn’t receive a large number of state berths.
The final boys’ foursome at the 4A tourney at Qualchan. Ferris’ Eric Ansett and Tanner Comes, Gonzaga Prep’s Michael Brutocao and Central Valley’s Mark Beck wanted to win the district title, but their demeanor on the course was impressive. Quality approaches, chips or putts – and there were plenty of them – were acknowledged with “nice shot” from the rest of the group. Players bumped knuckles several times after successful shots.
Ansett, the GSL player of the year, had a tough afternoon. In his words, his ball striking wasn’t crisp and his putter never warmed up. When it was over, Comes had won by three strokes and Ansett settled for second.
“Tanner was a stud,” Ansett said. “He was fun to watch.”
Comes and Mt. Spokane’s Nick Thurston. Both played to win on the 18th hole and were rewarded with district titles.
Comes, holding a one-shot lead over Beck, contemplated laying up with a 6-iron, but he belted a 3-wood from the right rough high over trees onto the green, leading to a two-putt birdie.
Beck hammered his drive but the ball ended up in a small, deep divot. He had a 6-iron home, but the horrible lie led to a double bogey. He described the circumstances without a hint of self pity, seeming to understand bad breaks are sometimes part of the game.
Thurston won the 3A tournament with a chip-in on 18 at MeadowWood. After doubling No. 16, he figured he needed to birdie 17 or 18 to win, but his birdie putt on 17 lipped out.
“We were joking walking down the 18th fairway,” Wildcats coach Greg Schultz said. “I said, ‘Where did your shot go?’ and he said, ‘It’s just a little short right.’ I said, ‘Well, chip it in.’ He said, ‘OK.’”