Playing in constant rain and cold, golfers in the 3A state boys golf championship were left feeling like they’d spent time in the ring rather than on the course.
But two Glacier Peak golfers battled the conditions at Tri-Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield and punched back to lead the Grizzlies to a fourth-place finish and the program’s first state golf tournament trophy.
“It was incredibly wet and very cold. Worse than yesterday; wetter,” Glacier Peak head coach Jeff Cornish said. “There was never a let up and it was five degrees colder. It was incredibly challenging conditions.
“At some point, it became a competition of will. … It felt like 15 rounds in a boxing match.”
Starting the day with two players in the top five — Ben Richards (second) and Conner Denessen (fifth) — Glacier Peak had an outside shot at winning its first state golf title. But the conditions took their toll and both players had tough rounds on the back nine, leading to a fourth-place finish for Richards and 11th-place for Denessen.
Still, the two players helped GP to a trophy and left their coach far from disappointed.
“To have two guys and bring home a trophy is a Herculean effort,” Cornish said. “We’re pleased with that.”
Richards battled valiantly through the first 10 holes and was tied with first-round leader and eventual winner, Juanita’s Frank Garber, after shooting the first nine holes even. But early on the back nine, fatigue started to set in and the rain finally got to Richards, who shot a 6-over 42 for the final nine holes to finish with a 78.
For complete team and individual results, click here
“Around hole 12 or 13 my gloves started to get wet and that made it tough,” said Richards, who added that he’d only played in one other tournament with worse conditions. “The biggest challenge is trying to keep your stuff dry.”
Denessen was equal to Richards’ even-par first round, but he ran into worse problems on the back nine. On the 16th hole, Denessen’s tee shot went in the water but nobody saw it splash, forcing officials to declare the ball lost. Denessen had to take the penalty and hit again from the tee and his round unraveled from there. He shot a 46 for the final nine holes.
“It was the correct call, but it was a tough deal,” Cornish said. “I was really proud of the way that Conner played. His score doesn’t reflect how well he played.”
Rumors started swirling early in the day that event officials for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association were thinking of shortening the tournament to 27 holes if conditions got worse. Nothing ever came of it and Cornish said he believed the WIAA made the right decision.
“It was the same conditions for everybody,” Cornish said. “I told (my players) ‘We’re all equally miserable.’ “
Due in large part to the conditions, just five golfers bettered their rounds from the first day. Two of those golfers were Interlake’s Patrick Sato and Andy Liu, who helped lead their team to the title. Stanwood’s Halen Davis was one of a few golfers who equaled his rounds from Day 1. Davis shot a pair of 78s to finish in a three-way tie for 13th.
“Any player that broke 80 today played a phenomenal round considering the conditions,” Davis said.
Other local finishers included Shorecrest’s Trent Jones (16th place), Shorewood’s Stuart Schachle (28th) and Everett’s Mike Simpson (36th).
Having caught a break by skirting the bad weather on the first day, Lynnwood’s Rudy Caparas had no such luck on Wednesday.
Tied for the lead after shooting a 2-under-par 70 on Day 1, Caparas didn’t fare as well on Day 2. He shot an 80 and fell to fifth place in the 4A State Boys Golf Championships at Camas Meadows Golf Course.
“He’s not happy right now, but fifth is quite an accomplishment,” Lynnwood head coach Alex Pfeiffer said. “He had a chance on a number of birdie putts on the back nine but they just weren’t dropping. The weather definitely had an impact.”
Defending state champ, Jackson’s Kyle Cornett, who was just three strokes back of the leaders after the first day also struggled, equaling Caparas’ 80 to drop to 10th.
One player who actually got better despite the weather was Kamiak’s Chris Hatch. The senior shot a 75, one shot better than his round of 76 on the first day to finish seventh with a two-day total of 151.
One of the keys for Hatch was some items he swiped from the hotel.
“In that weather he stayed focused and steady,” said Kamiak head coach Vic Alinen of Hatch. “He also swiped a couple of towels from the hotel and used them to keep all of his stuff dry. It worked. He did all of the things that great golfers do in those conditions.”
Hatch actually had a chance to tie winner Camas’ Brian Humphreys for the best round of the day and finish fifth, but a short putt on the 17th just lipped out.
“We joked with him about that all the way home,” Alinen said late Wednesday night.
Other local finishers included Snohomish’s Luke Kuna (18th), Arlington’s Anthony Allen (30th) and Monroe’s Owen Fenner (39th).
Jackson’s Renee Kwak was five shots better than her first round to finish with a two-day total of 173 and finish 24th in the 4A State Girls Golf Championships … Glacier Peak’s Alisa Wilson finished with a two-day total of 192 to finish 31st in the 3A State Girls Golf Championships … Lakewood’s Nina Forsell shot a 98 on Day 2 and finished 13th in the 2A State Girls Golf Championships.