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Ashland's Hedges ties for ninth at 5A state golf meet

Matt Hedges stumbled out of the gate and could not recover as the Ashland High senior triple-bogeyed the second hole and shot a 5-over 77 Tuesday to finish tied for ninth at the Class 5A state golf championships at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.

Hedges, the 2013 state runner-up and one of a handful players projected to contend for the state championship this year, was trying to climb out of a hole he dug for himself by shooting a 77 in Monday's opening round, a stumble which left him five strokes behind leader — and eventual winner — Kevin Geniza of Crescent Valley. But Hedges' plan to attack went awry when he plunked his tee shot on the 289-yard, par-4 second hole into the water and ended up with a costly seven. He tried to fight back with three birdies, two on the back nine, but wound up with a two-day total of 154 (10-over), which yielded a tie with Declan Watts of Summit in the final standings.

"It just puts a damper, especially that early," Hedges said of Tuesday's rough start. "If it's a bogey, maybe a double bogey, I could have come back. But a triple that early is difficult to come back from, mentally. I just tried to be aggressive but my mental game just quit on me early."

Geniza shot a 3-over 75 Tuesday for a two-day total of 147, two strokes better than runner-up Ryan DeCastihos. Jaxson Daskalos of West Albany was third with a 150 and Richie Mikesell of West Albany fourth with a 151.

Bend took the team title with a 617, 10 strokes better than runners-up Sherwood and Summit.

Hedges' water shot came a day after he struggled through another up-and-down front nine that included two triple bogeys and three birdies. The 407-yard par 4 ninth hole was particularly challenging for Hedges — he shot a seven there on Monday and a six on Tuesday.

"Pretty disappointed," he said. "Four holes cost me the tournament. That's what it came down to. It was hard to dig myself out of the hole that I created for myself."

Hedges did settle down in time to finish strong Tuesday. After bogeying the 10th, he parred five straight holes then birdied both 16 and 17. It wasn't nearly enough to overcome his previous missteps, however, and Hedges began to accept his fate as his final high school golf tournament wound down.

"By that point, I was just trying to finish my last high school round strong," he said. "I was just coming down 18 and I was just really disappointed with myself. My goal since I was a freshman was to win a state title, so coming down 18 it just kind of hit me that all the work that I put into my game over the last four years just kind of came to an end. It was emotional."

Hedges said the rough finish to his senior year will only drive him to work out the kinks in his game at Saint Martin's, the NCAA Division II college at which Hedges will continue his golf career next spring.

"Even though I fell short, I still had the time of my life preparing for this tournament the last four years," said Hedges, who also gave credit to Ashland golf coach Marla Parmele. "It's a good lesson because it just makes me want to keep moving forward this summer and into the next four years at the next level. It pushes me.

"I just need to tell myself to just keep working hard and good things will come in the future."

TEAM SCORES (Top 5) — Bend 299-318 — 617, Sherwood 314-313 — 627, Summit 307-320 — 627, West Albany 308-321 — 629, Marist 319-330 — 649, Hermiston 325-337 — 662.

INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5) — 1, Kevin Geniza, Crescent Valley, 72-75 — 147; 2, Ryan DeCastihos, Bend, 74-75 — 149; 3, Jaxson Daskalos, West Albany, 73-77 — 150; 4, Richie Mikesell, West Albany, 76-75 — 151; T5, Billy Pollock, Marist, 74-78 — 152; T5 Joe Reed, Sherwood, 76-76 — 152.

Local Individuals

T9, Matt Hedges, Ashland, 77-77 — 154.