Pouring rain dampens Falcon boys golfers at state

Falcon senior golfer Harrison Price tees off at the state 2A boys golf tournament held May 22-23 at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway. Price finished 12th overall in a field of 80 high school golfers.  - Holly Price photo
Falcon senior golfer Harrison Price tees off at the state 2A boys golf tournament held May 22-23 at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway. Price finished 12th overall in a field of 80 high school golfers.
— image credit: Holly Price photo

Golf is a mental game, and few things affect the mind like the weather, nervousness and a little frustration.

The three combined to sink one South Whidbey High School golfer, while another stayed afloat for a 12th place finish at the state 2A boys golf tournament. Falcon boys golfers Harrison Price and Jesse Portillo rolled into the state golf tournament after second- and fifth-place finishes in the District 1 tournament.

“I could not be more proud of them,” said Falcon boys golf head coach Steve Jones. “The way they represented themselves, their parents, the school, the community made me so proud of them.”

Price, a senior, was steady as the rain that drenched him and the course. He shot a 78 through the first round at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway to qualify for the second round May 23. Qualifying for the second round was vindication for Price, who missed the cut last year and spent most of the summer and his senior year playing golf.

“I feel like all the work I put in paid off,” Price said.

“I’m definitely happy with it.”

Portillo, also a senior, was poised to reach the second round. Then he teed off. He struggled through the front nine holes, and those troubles compounded into frustration and further problems on the course.

“When it started to go wrong and it kept going more and more wrong, I didn’t really know what to do,” Portillo said.

“I think my mind was just in the wrong place. I just lost it.”

With a soaked course, the greens were slower and the pins were placed higher. Missing the cup cost Portillo extra strokes, and his perceived poor putting only added to his stress.

“It’s tough when you’re not used to missing a 3-foot putt,” Portillo said.

“I was focused on playing as good as I could, and I overstretched myself a little bit.”

Watching South Whidbey’s second-best golfer struggle through the early rounds was a struggle for Jones. As he split his time between both Falcons, Jones watched Portillo’s mood and play worsen at the start of the first round. 

“Jesse, he plays with passion. He wants nothing more than to shoot his best score every time he plays,” Jones said. “I think he put a lot of pressure on himself.”

“He had a few bad holes that took his mind out of the game, especially on the front nine.”

The back nine was a bit unfamiliar to Portillo, too, which only added challenges to the round. Though the Falcons played two practice rounds, they stayed on the front nine holes to avoid the rainfall that poured on the Puget Sound area earlier in the week.

“It was pouring rain on those kids the whole time,” Jones said. “I’m not talking drizzle, I’m talking Noah’s Ark, 40 days, 40 nights.”

Price persisted Wednesday during the second round, where he shot an 83 for a total of 161 strokes. The champion was Tyler Carlson from Clarkston High School with a 147. Putting, which Price spent most of the offseason practicing, cost Price a shot at a top- 10 finish.

“If I would’ve gotten the putter hot, it would have been like it was all season,” Price said.

His coach agreed that a few extra putts were the difference for Price. On the greens, Price’s aim and velocity were on, but the ball didn’t drop. And that happened several times.

“They say ‘Golf is a game of inches.’ In Harrison’s case, it was a game of millimeters,” Jones said. “He burned the edges of the cup, over and over and over again. He was lipping putts out. He easily could have had five, 10 strokes off his score.”

Price will attend Santa Clara University next year. He said he will not play golf for the school, and he wants to focus on his course work instead.

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