North stumbles in trophy dash
Adam Browne's fourth-place effort isn't enough to pull the Black Tornado above a fifth-place finish
AURORA - The greens were enough to make anyone blue, which is why there weren't many red numbers at the Class 4A boys golf state championships Tuesday at Langdon Farms Golf Club.
North Medford entered the second and final day with visions of a title dancing in its head but was upended on slippery slopes the likes of which it doesn't see in Southern Oregon.
The Black Tornado, getting solid play from two youngsters but needing more scoring depth to accomplish its goal, placed fifth with a two-day total of 632. After the first round, it was in fourth place, eight shots out of the lead.
Tualatin won at 613, followed by Lakeridge at 618, Canby at 623 and Jesuit at 625.
The top four teams - all from these parts and who have regular access to the course - earned trophies.
South Medford, which won the overall Southern Oregon Conference title by a considerable margin, improved on its first-day's play but still finished the year in a postseason swoon.
The Panthers, led by freshman Brodie Sullivan, wound up in 16th place at 659.
Freshman Dustin Andres of Tualatin, who plays Langdon Farms nearly every day, claimed the individual crown at 144, two shots better than Landon Banks of Beaverton.
Adam Browne, who was the low scorer for the season for district-champion North, was in his customary place atop the Tornado ledger, tying for fourth place despite a final nine that had him trying to keep his game together with gum and bailing wire.
The slight sophomore, with a swing that accelerates like an Indy car coming out of a turn, coaxed a 39 out of the back by way of two birdies, three pars, three bogeys and a double.
Not far behind in total score was freshman Mike Barry, who, had he figured out the par 3s, might have had the leaders peeking over their shoulders.
Barry won the Southern Oregon Conference championship tournament a week earlier with a strong second day and was at it again, firing a 3-over-par 74 Tuesday even though he was 5 over on the short holes.
"We were in the top 10," said Tornado coach Kevin Klabunde, "but that's not what we were hoping for, particularly after yesterday. We were hoping to be one of the top four teams. Our putters kind of let us down today."
He glanced at the 18th green, which wraps around a pond and also serves as the front-side finisher.
"There are a lot of undulations in these greens," he said. "Some people call mounds like that 'buried elephants.' If you get on the wrong side of them, it makes it really tough."
North was in fourth place by two shots when it first teed off, then lost 12 to that position and trailed the trophy position by 10 shots.
But hope, if not eternal, was there at the outset of the back nine.
The Tornado's four top scorers were a combined — over for holes 10 through 12.
"We had a little mini rally going," said Klabunde, "and again we had a couple of three-putts that got the ball rolling in the wrong direction."
At the par-3 13th, playing more than 170 yards and with a sucker pin tucked precariously close to a pond, the four Tornado counters - five played - came in at 6 over.
Three of the four then bogeyed the next hole.
"We couldn't fully recover from that stretch," said Klabunde.
Browne did his darnedest. He used the slope of the green as a backboard on 16 to leave his approach within 4 feet, then made the birdie putt.
"Sometimes it only takes one shot to get you going mentally again," he said.
Which would explain the next hole, a 190-yard par 3. He used a 6-iron and nearly knocked the flagstick down. A 3-foot putt gave him another birdie, and he parred the last hole only after his putt from off the green came up a couple of rolls short of gaining him yet another stroke to par.
Browne, who was fourth individually after Day — following a 74, found himself off-line too often on Day 2. If the greens weren't enough to cause consternation, the dropoffs around them were.
"Even if you hit it on the fringe, it kicked way off," said Browne.
"When I had par putts, they weren't short par putts. They were 4- or 5-footers. On the front, I felt like I really earned that 2 over par just because of those 5-foot putts."
While Browne birdied the sixth hole for one of his four on the day, Barry was derailed there.
He hit his wedge tee shot fat, and the ball rolled all the way down the side of the green. A spinning lob came up short, then he three-putted.
"A couple of mental mistakes on a hole can cost you a big score," he said.
After that, however, he played even-par the rest of the way.
North loses two seniors in Chris Daggitt and Brandon Miller. The same holds true with South Medford in Noah Horstman and Alan Johnson.
"Even though we tailed off at the end of the season," said Bill Singler, the Panthers' coach, "we still won the conference overall by 25 strokes. With Noah playing the way he did this year, the kids just jumped on his coattails. I know they wanted to perform better at state, but the future is very bright."
Three of South's worst rounds came in its final four - two at district and one at state.
Sullivan led a resurgence on the last day, shooting 77 for a 160 total. Horstman was one stroke back at 161.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) - Tualatin 305-308-613, Lakeridge 315-303-618, Canby 310-313-623, Jesuit 311-314-625, North Medford 313-319-632, Grant 322-311-633, Southridge 325-311-636, Bend 319-319-638, Sheldon 324-322-646, Marshfield 330-320-650, Sprague 340-310-650. Other local results: 16th, South Medford, 339-320-659.
INdivIDUAL LEADERS (Top 10) - Dustin Andres, Tualatin, 70-74-144; Landon Banks, Beaverton, 76-70-146; Chad Cocco, 72-76-148; (tie) Adam Browne, North Medford, 74-76-150, Ryan Gilmour, Canby, 78-72-150, Skyler Johnson, Marshfield, 78-72-150; (tie) Mitch Berg, Centennial, 77-74-151, and Matt Goodman, Jesuit, 75-76-151; Cole Peyton, Tualatin, 76-76-152; (tie) Robert Fisher, Canby, 74-79-153, and Jason Diamond, Lakeridge, 80-73-153, and Steve Jones, Lakeridge, 77-76-153, and Ted Whitney, Sheldon, 77-76-153, and Ross Barnes, South Salem, 78-75-153, and Brandon Lee, Southridge, 76-77-153, and Joel Johnson, 78-75-153.
NORTH MEDFORD (313-319-632) - Adam Browne 74-76-150, Mike Barry 80-74-154, Chris Daggitt 77-84-161, Brandon Miller 82-85-167.
SOUTH MEDFORD (339-320-659) - Brodie Sullivan 83-77-160, Noah Horstman 83-80-163, Ryan Ulbricht 85-80-165, Alan Johnson 88-83-171.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail