After a solid round at Monday’s Centennial League golf meet at the Stagg Hill Golf Club, David Woods found himself struggling three shots into his playoff with Washburn Rural’s Lukas McCalla for third place.
That’s when one shot turned everything around.
The senior chipped in from more than 40 yards out to save par and win the playoff, earning the third-place medal in the process.
Woods teed off on No. 1, sending his drive to the right side of the fairway and into the trees. After pitching out back into the short grass, he tried to hit the green with his 3-wood, but was off the mark.
“I pitched out onto the fairway, then tried to hit it down by the hole with my 3-wood, I hit that pretty bad,” Woods said. “Then I chipped across, just to get a shot at getting up and down, and I was about 40 or 50 yards out and I happened to hole it out for par.
“It started off rough, but it ended very well.”
The playoff win capped a great day for Woods, who shot a 75 to take third behind Washburn Rural’s Andrew Beckler and Patric Ball, who each shot a 74. Beckler won his playoff against Ball to take medalist honors for the Junior Blues, which also won the team title with a 299, 10 strokes ahead of second-place Manhattan, which shot a 309.
“Anybody who plays golf can attest, at the end of every round, you can always look back and think of strokes you can take off, and this is no exception,” Manhattan head coach Brad Ficke said. “Washburn Rural could probably say the same thing. I feel like compared to the 298 we had in Hutch, this is a more challenging course, I’m happy with the 309 — but I’m not satisfied, and neither are the guys.”
Cole Dillon shot a 76 to take fifth, with Scott Woods and Pierson McAtee each shooting a 79 to tie for 11th. Drew Casper shot an 82 and Dylan Gros an 88 to round out the team’s scoring.
Ficke said the group had plenty of motivation to try and catch Rural.
“I don’t think pressure is an issue,” Ficke said. “It’s league and we want that trophy. We’re sick of Washburn Rural winning it and they’re good. They’re just better than us right now.
“I’m proud of them, and I know they’re not going to be satisfied with it, so this will give us some ammunition for the rest of the season.”
Ficke said the familiarity with the course didn’t play much of a role in the day’s scores.
“It’s about hitting shots,” he said. “If you ask any of those guys, it doesn’t matter what course you’re on, if you hit a bad shot, you’re going to suffer. Out here, there’s so many trees, you’re going to suffer even more.”
For David Woods, the chances to get the best of Rural are running low in his senior campaign.
“It’s obviously not our only goal, but one of our goals is always to beat them,” Woods said. “They’re a very good team, so we need to shoot a few strokes lower. I know I have to play my best and our team has to play its best to compete with them.”
Ficke said he knows his team is capable of breaking through.
“I am proud of David putting up a 75 and battling through, and Cole was basically 1-over-par those last nine holes,” he said. “Those guys grinded it out, and the rest of them are right there. They’re just a couple shots away. They’re a bad drive or a three-putt away from breaking through to that next level. They’re all capable.”
With the league meet in the books, the Indians still have some tough tournaments to play in before regionals on May 19. Ficke said the meet in Lawrence on May 14 is always a good state preview.
“We still have time to prepare,” Ficke said. “We’ve got to have guys grinding it out and hitting shots when we need to. I think their eyes are on the prize. Qualifying at regionals for state, and then going from there, we’re going to keep at it. We’ve shown improvement already, so if we keep what we’re doing, we’re going to keep improving.”