Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Rogue River senior Kevin Murphy and St. Mary's junior Dylan Wu have seemingly been attached to one another throughout their prep careers in boys golf, and it'll be no different in today's final round at the Class 3A/2A/1A state championships.
Defending champion Murphy and Wu, who was second a year ago, each finished atop the leaderboard after the first round of play at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell Monday.
Both carded 1-under-par 71s to take a four-shot advantage on St. Mary's senior Will Street and freshman Josh Wu and Reedsport's Montana Frame, who placed third a year ago.
"They have a great, friendly rivalry so that's going to be an exciting finish and probably the biggest drama for tomorrow," St. Mary's head coach Ryan Allred said of the co-leader pairing. "But don't count Will and Josh out, either. They're right there with 75s and if they get hot, you never know."
Cascade Christian freshman Max Davis shot a 78, with 11 pars and one birdie, during his state tournament debut to move into a tie for seventh place. Davis also had five bogeys and one double bogey.
With Jeremy Wu also posting a 78 to round out the team scoring for St. Mary's, the Crusaders blitzed the field with a 299 to take a 32-shot advantage into today's final round in pursuit of their third straight team championship.
"The guys played really well today," Allred said. "We've got ourselves a little cushion, that's for sure. Emerald Valley's a really, really tough course so the guys played well. I think a 299 today was about like our 289 we shot in Klamath Falls last week because of the faster greens and tighter fairways here."
Westside Christian is second at 331, followed by Rogue River at 337.
Murphy started on the back nine and managed two birdies against one bogey to make the turn in 35. The front nine, however, provided some more roller-coaster moments as he opened with a birdie but then had consecutive bogeys to bring him back to even par.
Murphy responded with birdies on hole Nos. 5 and 7 but finished his round with a bogey on the ninth hole.
Dylan Wu's opening round included three bogeys on the front nine and one birdie to make the turn in 38. He regrouped and responded on the back nine with three birdies and six pars.
"Dylan really turned it around on the back side," said Allred. "He didn't have his game early on and actually switched putting strokes after nine holes and went back to cross-hand on the back nine and the putts started to drop. I'm really proud of him to stick with it the way he did."
The change of putting grips, however, was certainly unconventional when you consider the playing stakes of a state championship.
"It's very unusual and not really a coaching recommendation," added Allred, "but he decided to do it. I can't complain, though, when he's sinking putts."
St. Mary Tom Thorndike shot an 81 but it didn't factor into team scoring as the top four of five scores are used. He was tied for 14th place but will be replaced in the lineup today by sophomore Brandon Chun, a move that was determined prior to the tourney.
TEAM SCORES (Top 5) — St. Mary's 299, Westside Christian 331, Rogue River 337, Catlin Gabel 338, Kennedy 346.
INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5) — T1, Kevin Murphy, Rogue River, 71, and Dylan Wu, St. Mary's, 71; T3, Will Street, St. Mary's, 75, and Josh Wu, St. Mary's, 75, and Montana Frame, Reedsport, 75.
ST. MARY'S (299) — T1, Dylan Wu, 71; T3, Will Street, 75, and Josh Wu, 75; T7, Jeremy Wu, 78.
ROGUE RIVER (337) — T1, Kevin Murphy, 71; T23, Shawn Donahue, 88, and Devin Milligan, 88; T28, David Murphy, 90.
T7, Max Davis, Cascade Christian, 78.