SPOKANE - Talk about walking a fine line! Grandview High School senior Andrew Michels finished right on the cut line at yesterday's 2A State golf tournament to earn one of 22 spots in today's final round action at State.
The State tourney veteran toured Spokane's Downriver Golf Course on Tuesday with a 6-over-par 77. Heading into day two at State this morning (Wednesday), he was tied for 19th place, but he squarely had his sights set on a "Top 10" finish.
"Andrew's goal today-a top 10 finish," Grandview Coach Dave Uggetti said bright and early this morning as he and Andrews were leaving their hotel and driving to the relatively short, 6,130-yard course.
"Other than the three kids who shot par or better, the rest of the field is bunched pretty close together," Uggetti said, explaining that it's not unrealistic at all for Andrews to achieve his goal.
Prior to teeing off this morning, the Greyhound linkster was only three strokes back of the four golfers tied for 10th. One of those four, though, is two-time 2A State champion Bart Patitucci of Othello, who opened with a 3-over 74.
Patitucci, the class of the CWAC South Conference for the past three years, is a familiar foe to Andrews, as both golfers have faced each other numerous times in league play since 2003. Patitucci actually was headed for a sub-par round yesterday, had it not been for a mental error on a par-3 hole that involved a garbage can. Instead of moving the refuse container out of his line of sight, after drawing his tee shot behind the green, Patitucci attempted to chip his ball through the narrow opening. Slightly off with his "towards," his ball struck the garbage can and bounded back at him.
Andrews, on the other hand, had no major hiccups yesterday.
"He was hitting it well," Uggetti said of his No. 1 golfer.
Andrews opened with a 2-over 37 on the front nine, thanks in part to a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole. He reached the green in regulation, then knocked down a 15-foot putt for the bird.
Although he only scored a par on the next hole, No. 8, it might have been more impressive than the birdie on 7. Uggetti explained that Andrews' approach shot ended up in the bunker, but he came up with a brilliant sand save by chipping his ball within just a couple feet of the pin, setting up the relatively easy par putt.
Making the clubhouse turn, Andrews went on to par five of the final nine holes, absorbing bogeys on the other four.
"It was a pretty solid round on Andrew's part," said Uggetti.
Had Andrews yesterday put together the kind of round he did at Downriver during a practice session this past Monday, he would be among the leaders today. During his practice round he carded a 3-under-par 68, coming up with a dozen or so one-putts.
"He's capable of scoring on this course," said Uggetti. "We'll see how it goes today," he added prior to this morning's 8 a.m. tee time.
The first day leaders at the 2A State tourney were Hockinson High School teammates Gaston De La Torre and Gerrit Chambers. De La Torre, a baby-faced sophomore all of maybe 130 lbs., opened with a 4-under 67, with Chambers, a freshman that weighs in perhaps 105 lbs. dripping wet, just a shot back with a 68. Chris Johnson of Chimacum was sitting in third with an even-par 71.
The key to scoring at Downriver, said one former CWAC South coach observing yesterday's action, is not so much in driving the ball long distances, but rather in keeping all the shots off the tee blocks straight. Each of the 18 fairways at Downriver are lined with pine trees, he said, necessitating accurate drives and fairway shots.
Of the five CWAC South Conference golfers who qualified to compete at State, Othello's Jason Brault posted the best score yesterday, a 1-over-par 72. He was followed by his teammate Patitucci with a 74, Toppenish's Adam Story with a 76, Michels with a 77 and East Valley's Matt Dillinger with an 81, who failed to make the cut for day two action.