KENNEWICK - Despite an overcast sky and a steady drizzle of rain, the Southridge Suns found a way to shine at yesterday's Columbia Basin Big Nine 3A Boys Golf League opener, staged at Kennewick's Canyon Lakes Golf Course.
Surprisingly, the Suns finished a whopping 27 strokes ahead of the second-place finishing Hanford Falcons, the pre-season CBBN favorite for many in the know. Southridge, according to a Canyon Lakes pro shop spokesman, was led by a pair of golfers, Atkins and Mandell, each of whom carded 1-over-par 73's.
Southridge's four varsity linksters tallied a match-best 303 team score Wednesday afternoon, a remarkable feat considering the deplorable playing conditions. The Falcons, apparently unable to soar in the nearly non-stop, wet downpour, settled for runner-up honors at the eight-school match with a 330. West Valley's Rams were third with an aggregate score of 340.
Sunnyside's Grizzlies, facing something of a rebuilding year, actually fared better than some might have expected. Behind Nathan Meyer and Chandler Luther's sub-90 rounds, Sunnyside avoided a cellar-dweller finish. The Grizzlies placed seventh with a team total of 377, six strokes better than the Pasco Bulldogs, who brought up the rear yesterday. Sunnyside's golfers, too, proved they aren't that far from being in the middle of the 3A CBBN pack, finishing just 15 shots back of both Kennewick and Eastmont, each of which tallied team scores of 362.
In leading Sunnyside around the rain-soaked track yesterday, Meyer, a junior, carded a team-best 86. That included posting a 4-over-par 40 on Canyon Lakes' front nine.
Meyer's front side excursion was made possible, in part, by knocking down a pair of tweeters. He birdied two par-4 holes, the 307-yard, slightly dogleg left second hole, as well as No. 6, a 349-yard layout with one of the widest fairways on the course but which requires avoiding a winding stream off the blocks. The only real hiccup Meyer absorbed on the front nine came on the uphill, par-4 eighth hole, which he doubled.
The nine holes after the clubhouse turn, Meyer basically played bogey golf. He had two pars, snagged bogeys on four of the holes and coughed up double-bogeys three times.
Luther, also a junior, finished two shots back of his teammate with an 88 (45-43). The strength of his round came during an eight-hole stretch, from holes 6 through 13, where he had three pars and five bogeys.
All told, Luther parred five of the 18 holes yesterday, and like Meyer, never took anything worse than a double-bogey.
James Voorhies, whose only other 18-hole round this season totaled a 107, showed marked improvement yesterday by carding a 96 on front and back side scores of 47-49. The Sunnyside sophomore kept his scores at bogey or better on 11 of the 18 holes. He might have escaped relatively unscathed had he took just double-bogeys on the other seven holes, but that wasn't the case. Voorhies ran into trouble on the par-4, fifth, where he had to settle for a triple-bogey. Then on the closing, uphill 18th, a 370-yard, par-4 affair that features OB's on both the right and left, Voorhies stumbled in with a bogey-four.
Still, the sophomore's round was 11 strokes cleaner than his previous 18-hole outing.
Rounding out the team scoring for the Grizzlies was a 107 posted by freshman Ian Heffron. His front side was forgettable, shooting a 59 with the only highlight a single bogey, that coming on the par-3, fourth hole. Heffron's back nine play was much more inspired. He ran off three pars in a four-hole stretch, and bogeyed three other holes.
The SHS boys team is scheduled to compete at the Grandview Golf Invitational next Monday, which gets underway at 9 a.m. at Black Rock Creek Golf Course. The Grizzlies will then be out of action until April 9, when Richland hosts the second league match of the season at Horn Rapids.