Extra putts cost Falcon golfers’ early matches

Jesse Portillo, a Falcon senior, chips onto the third green during a meet with Stanwood and Glacier Peak.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Jesse Portillo, a Falcon senior, chips onto the third green during a meet with Stanwood and Glacier Peak.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

USELESS BAY — The Falcon boys golf team’s short game cost them big Tuesday.

Despite having the match’s best golfer in Harrison Price, South Whidbey’s golfers lost to 4A school Stanwood and 3A Glacier Peak (Snohomish).

Price, a senior and one of two Falcons who competed at the 2A state tournament last year, led all golfers with 35 through the front nine holes at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.

“Our gauge or barometer for success at golfing is to be at two putts per hole, on average,” said Falcon head coach Steve Jones. “We were well over that yesterday.”

Glacier Peak won the tournament with the low team score of 211 strokes.

Stanwood finished second with 221, and South Whidbey was last with 223. The Falcons struggled on the greens. Two Falcons finished with scores over 50 strokes (15 over par on the front nine holes).

“Some of it was just we need to focus more time on that aspect of our game in practice. This was their first match of the season against two 4A schools, so they maybe had a little bit of nerves going into it,” Jones said.

South Whidbey’s other returning state golfer finished with a few more strokes than his coach expected. Senior Jesse Portillo totaled 41 strokes.

“It was a fair effort on his part,” Jones said. “He’ll be the first person to admit he’s better than that.”

“He’s capable of bringing that much lower.”

South Whidbey’s other four varsity golfers were Quintin Viers (47 strokes), Evan Merculief (48), Jerimiah Robey (52) and Derrick Riley (53). One junior varsity golfer made a strong impression at Tuesday’s meet. Falcon junior Daniel Caron shot a 47, which would have tied for the third-best varsity score.

The varsity lineup could change during the season, Jones said, as players distinguish themselves through qualifiers such as meet scores or practice performances.

“It’s a healthy competition where they’re trying to push each other,” Jones said.

The loss was two days before South Whidbey started Cascade Conference meets. This season, every Cascade Conference golf team will meet at one course per match. Athletic directors voted to change the meet’s format to create a tournament atmosphere with more spectators and to ensure each golfer plays the same course in the same weather.

On Tuesday, the course operated under winter rules, which allows relief from standing water. The skies were clear, however, the course had plenty of water still on it, which slowed some putts and chips.

Jones hoped the loss had some lessons for his golfers, like playing against quality competition and the value of improving their short game.

“It’s really nice to get this out of the way in a non-conference match,” Jones said.

On Thursday, in the first conference meet at the Snohomish Golf Course, South Whidbey finished in second place behind Archbishop Murphy. The Wildcats scored 345 strokes, the Falcons had 351.

South Whidbey travels to Monroe on Wednesday, March 28 to play at the Blue Boy West golf course.

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