YAKIMA - Under the old playoff format, Sunnyside High School junior Justin Bos would have punched his ticket to the 3A State golf tournament at yesterday's Regional competition.
Unfortunately for the Grizzly linkster, this year the WIAA switched the Regional tourney from an 18-hole contest to a 36-hole competition.
Bos opened Regional play Wednesday morning at Yakima's Apple Tree Golf Course by shooting a glitzy, 4-over-par 76. That qualified him and the other top 21 golfers from the 40-man field to advance to Wednesday afternoon's 18-hole round.
"After the first round yesterday Justin was sitting ninth overall, with the fourth or fifth best score of the morning," said SHS Coach Glenn Braman. "Under the old way, he's headed to State."
As it turned out, Bos couldn't maintain the pace he set earlier in the day, ballooning to an 11-over-par 83 on his second go-round of Apple Tree. His two-round total of 159 ended up being three shots higher than the 156 cut line for State.
"No excuses for the way Justin played," said Braman, "But there were some factors on why he played the way he did in the afternoon.
"The way the season is set up, all we played was 18-hole competitions. To go out and walk a course as long as Apple Tree, twice in one day, it's not something you're used to.
"It was a grind out there," said Braman.
"Mentally, if you hit a couple of bad shots, on a long day like yesterday, they really begin taking a toll on you.
"By the time Justin was done, he was just gassed.
"If the 36 holes had been played over two days, I don't think there's any way he comes back and shoots an 83," Braman said.
At the heart of the matter, Braman continued, is whether the 36-hole Regional tournament should be a test of golfing skills or endurance.
"We're not complaining," said Braman, "But was there a better way to set this up? Probably."
Wednesday's opening round, which featured a shotgun start that Bos drew No. 18 on which to first tee it up, didn't exactly go the Grizzly's way at the beginning.
"Justin kind of got off to a bad start," said Braman, explaining that he pulled his tee shot into the trees on the right and was left with an awkward lie. Figuring he could hit a long punch halfway up the long slope in front of the 18th green, Bos didn't get his club cleanly on the ball and it found the thin thread of watery stream that snakes the bottom of the greenside slope. He ended up with bogey, the same score he took on the next hole, No. 1, before righting the ship and finishing strong with front and back nine scores of 38-38.
The first round leader proved to be Eastmont's Tyler McDougall with a 4-under-par 68. Hanford's Alex Moore, who ended the 36-hole tourney as the medalist with an 8-under-par 136, was sitting in second after the opening round with a 69.
In opening the second round of play yesterday afternoon, it appeared as though Bos was going to be a force with which to be reckoned. He snared pars on 1 and 2, but as often happens in golf, trouble reared its ugly head.
Teeing it up on the par-5 third hole, Bos drove his ball out-of-bounds. His second tee shot found the trees. Straddling the trunk of a tree, he punched out awkwardly, then sent a shot into a bunker. By the time he got his ball into the cup, he was looking at a nine on his scorecard.
"It was kind of the beginning of the end," said Braman.
To his credit, Bos quickly recovered and nailed down a par on the next hole.
On No. 5, however, his drive came to rest in a divot and he ended up making bogey. An ensuing three-putt on the next hole, after driving the ball to within eight feet of the pin in regulation, cost him bogey, again.
"That's where the wheels started coming off for Justin," said Braman.
Bos would end up making the turn with a 7-over 42.
A double-bogey on the opening 10th hole after the clubhouse turn, coupled with an out-of-bounds hiccup on No. 14, kept Bos's back side score at 4-over-par 41.
Despite his second round woes, Bos's two-round total of 159 was only three strokes above the cut line to State.
Braman said Bos still has his senior year ahead of him, and based on the work ethic he has shown in the past, figures the Grizzly will be back in the hunt as a State tourney contender next season.
Of the 11 golfers yesterday who qualified for this year's 3A State tourney, all are from the Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities Columbia Basin League schools. None of the golfers from the Greater Spokane League schools advanced.