Stanwood golfer Halen Davis ‘having more fun this year’

Stanwood golfer Halen Davis decided early in his senior season to try something different.

His new approach can be summed up this way: less worry, more fun.

And so far, it’s working quite well.

Davis is preparing for his third consecutive trip to the Class 3A state tournament, which tees off this morning at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield. With two years of state experience in his bag, Davis hopes to do well, but more than anything, he’s planning to enjoy the ride.

“I’m just having more fun this year,” Davis said. “Just not worrying so much about each shot. I’m going out and hitting each shot the best that I can.”

In the past, Davis worried about his future after high school. But after committing to George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, before the season, he’s been better able to focus on his game, resulting in a much more relaxed senior year.

“There’s a lot of pressure to find a college to take you …,” said Davis, who’s been playing golf since he was 8 years old. “(As a senior) you’ve been there, done that. It’s just learning from the mistakes of the past.”

Davis built on a strong regular-season performance by tying for third at last week’s Class 3A District 1 tournament at Everett Golf &Country Club. He qualified for state despite not playing at the top of his game.

“I love the course,” Davis said of Everett Golf &Country Club. “It’s just, for whatever reason, I don’t play well there.”

Likewise, Davis didn’t play up to what he expected of himself in his first two trips to state, placing 23rd in the Class 4A tournament as a sophomore, and finishing in a tie for 13th last spring in the 3A tourney.

“I was just super-nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I just figured I was so young and everyone was so much older. I felt like the underdog going into it. I felt like everyone else was better than me. It was fun, I (just) haven’t shot to my potential, but I’m going to learn from those mistakes and hopefully play well this year.”

While Davis hopes to have a couple good days at the 36-hole state tournament, he’s excited to share the experience with fellow Spartans Chase Anderson and Cody Sigvartson, who also qualified for the tournament.

“Just having fun with my two best friends who are also going to state with me, it’s already great,” Davis said. “It’s just a matter of going out and having fun and hopefully my rounds will be great. That adds to the fun of the season.”

Kwak leads Kamiak

As the Kamiak girls golf team played its first practice round Monday at Club Green Meadows — site of the Class 4A girls state tournament that gets underway today in Vancouver — Knights head coach Bud Davis noticed the same thing he’s seen all season.

Kamiak sophomore Renee Kwak appeared ready to go.

“She was a machine,” Davis said. “She was down the middle (of the fairways) every time. She looked really strong.”

Kwak, who won the Class 4A District 1 title last week by 16 strokes over teammate Hannah Lee, is one of six Knights who qualified for the state tournament. That’s a career-high for Davis, who has been the head coach at Kamiak for eight years and coached at Mariner before that.

“I have taken six to state where one was an alternate,” Davis said, “but this is the first time all six girls will be players. That in itself is kind of a marker for the community. You look at Harbour Pointe (Golf Club), it’s right in the middle of the community.”

Davis praised Kwak, not just for her skill with a golf club, but as a person. He said the sophomore has no ego, “fits in really well” with the rest of the Knights, and provides an example for the other Kamiak golfers to strive for on the course.

“She’s invaluable,” Davis said. “You’ve got to have a rabbit. You’ve got to have someone who’s way out front so the girls know, ‘We have to keep up. We have to pick it up.’”

Along with Kwak and Lee, Kamiak golfers Katherine Choi, Simran Handa, Olivia Kim and Shawnna Cabanday all qualified for state. Kamiak finished with five of the top seven finishers at the district meet. The group went up early to get a few practice swings on Club Green Meadows, minus Lee, who will arrive today after participating in a choir retreat.

The Knights are eager to make some noise at state to go along with the thunderstorms forecast for the next couple days.

“A good state tournament would be if we placed in the top five,” Davis said. “We’ve done that in the past — we’ve had a first place and a couple third-place (finishes). If you have one or two girls way out in front and the rest of us come for the ride, you can earn enough points to overcome these teams of two (players).

“If you have more girls score, you can get ahead of them. We’ll see how that all plays out.”

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