Price finishes second after first day of district golf tournament
By BEN WATANABE
South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS
May 20, 2011 · Updated 2:23 PM
SNOHOMISH — Two hours after the District 1 boys golf tournament started, it almost stopped.
Rain fell steadily from the first tee at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16. Around 2 p.m., the rain fell harder and within minutes, the putting green on the ninth hole had a 10-foot-wide puddle near the sand trap.
“This is what we do,” said South Whidbey head coach Steve Jones. “We’ve played through this all year.”
Jones, along with a grounds official, used the smooth, rounded side of a rake to flush the water off the green. It’s a common practice on Western Washington golf courses like the Snohomish Golf Course, which hosted the district tournament.
As far as South Whidbey’s team was concerned, the weather was par for the course.
“The one thing that I’m very proud of my team is they practice rain or shine, or sleet, or hail or snow,” Jones said. “We practiced every single day. We did not take one day off of practice, all season long. So, they’re conditioned to play in those poor conditions. They’re conditioned to play through everything.”
The South Whidbey Falcons played through the cold, rain and wind, with almost as much finesse as their play during the clear skies a week earlier at the Cascade Conference championship, also at Snohomish Golf Course.
Top Falcon golfer Harrison Price, a junior, led South Whidbey with two over par or double bogey (74 strokes). Price led the field through the first nine holes with 37 strokes.
“He is in a great position for the final round,” Jones said of Price. “He’s only two strokes out of first place and he’s playing really well.”
The week before, Price won the league MVP title with a conference-best round of 71.
“Harrison is a competitor,” Jones added, “so him being in this position is good because he’s going to be playing with the top three golfers in the tournament, and they’re going to be in the premiere group. So I think Harrison will thrive on this competition and the pressure.”
By the day’s end, Price was in a tie for second place with Ryan Fenton of Archbishop Murphy. Blaine’s Ryan Wallen led the field with 72.
Within striking distance of claiming the district’s top spot, Price’s coach knows he’s capable of more.
“Actually, today his ball striking was not as effective as it has been in the past,” Jones said. “And I think it’s just a testament to how good he is [and] how much he’s improved. He did not have his A-game on today and still shot 74.”
The rain eased from a pour to a drizzle by 4 p.m., just as the first few rounds finished. Jesse Portillo, a Falcon junior, finished in the top-10 with 78 strokes. He improved last week’s score by two strokes. After last week’s conference match, Portillo said he wanted to shoot in the high 70s in the district tournament.
Falcon captain Shane Thompson, senior, returned from last week’s stomach-flu recovery rounds to shoot an 83. Thompson improved his score by one stroke and said he felt tight during his swing, which affected his timing.
“It was a little off — I’m not going to lie … it just didn’t click today,” Thompson said.
The weather may finally have dampened Thompson’s resolve. He said generally cold air and rain result in tighter grips during a swing.
“It made me a little tense,” Thompson said. “Naturally, when it rains, you have to squeeze the grip a little harder, just because that’s how the rain affects your gloves.”
Another factor in squeezing the club tighter is the pressure to return to the state tournament. Last year, both Price and Thompson qualified. But don’t talk about it during the match, though, that might jinx it like telling a pitcher he’s on track for a no-hitter.
“Oh, I’m not even worried about that,” Thompson said about qualifying for state. “I’m trying not to think about that. I’m just trying to think of it like any other tournament.”Contact South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS Ben Watanabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-221-5300.