RICHLAND - Electing to play it safe proved to be the prudent course of action yesterday for Sunnyside High School senior Justin Bos.
The SHS senior pulled his driver out of his bag just three times Thursday at the 36-hole 3A Regional tournament, and in the process earned one of the 12 berths to the State tourney.
For Bos, this will be the second time in his prep career he'll be competing at the 3A State golf tournament. He qualified two years ago for State as a sophomore.
In making the cut at Regionals yesterday, staged at the target, desert-style Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland, Bos fired a pair of 78's. Only the 12 low scorers from the 36-hole competition-which included 3A golfers from the Columbia Basin League and the Greater Spokane League-move on to State.
Bos, the only Grizzly golfer to qualify for Regionals, decided to use 3-iron off the blocks for the majority of the holes, abandoning what has been the strength of his game throughout his prep career...his driver.
"There's a lot of OB at Horn Rapids, plus if you hit your ball in the desert it's very hard to hit out of," Sunnyside Coach Ryan Wattenbarger said in explaining why Bos chose to shelf the driver.
"It worked out great," Wattenbarger said. "Most of the time he was no more than 50 yards behind the guys who were using driver. It left Justin with a lot of mid-irons into the greens.
"Bottom line...he played it safe and it worked to his advantage," Wattenbarger said.
Bos's goal heading into the 36-hole playoff was to shoot sub-40 rounds on all four nines. Mission accomplished, as he posted scores of 39-39 on both 18's.
Wattenbarger said Bos birdied a par-3 on his first 18, "...and he had three birdies I know of on the second 18."
In assessing his two 18-hole rounds, Bos said he couldn't have been more pleased in his decision to go with 3-iron off the blocks.
"A lot of times I had just 8 or 9-iron into the greens," Bos said. "My 3-iron was keeping right up with the guys using driver.
"Bottom line was, I had to keep it in the green stuff," he chuckled.
All told, Bos hit 10 fairways and 14 greens in regulation in his opening round Thursday. His second 18, Bos nailed eight fairways and made the green in regulation 10 times.
In having to walk the extremely long Horn Rapids course twice in one day, Wattenbarger said Bos held up well. The Grizzly coach said the senior was one of only three golfers from the 40-man field to use a push cart.
"It saved him from having to pack his bag around all day," said Wattenbarger.
In qualifying for State, Bos finished with the ninth lowest 36-hole total at Regionals. His score of 156 was one better than the three golfers who tied for 10th, 11th and 12th place honors. Yesterday's medalist was Josh Harvey of Hanford, who tallied a 144.
Bos may join his Grizzly teammates at next Tuesday's Apple Tree Invitational, if the tourney does not conflict with the presentation of his senior project. He'll then will head off for the 3A State tourney the following week. The May 20-21 State tournament will be staged at the Bellingham Country Club.
"I haven't played there before, but some friends have said it's cut out of the woods and it's on the short side," said Bos. "The game plan will probably be the same, 3-iron off the blocks to keep it safe."