Youth golfers to take a swing at state title July 29-31
July 28, 2009
By Christopher Huber
Issaquah youth golfer Darius Lalier didn’t shoot a great first-round front nine July 20 at Willows Run Golf Course, but his run on the back nine made it all better.
He shot three birdies and finished the last nine holes even. He ended the day with a 78-stroke performance and tied for eighth in the 14-15 age group.
Not bad, but he needed a similar score July 21 to contend for one of 13 state-qualifying spots. He punched his ticket to state after hitting a 79 in the second round of the Washington Junior Golf Association District 2 Championship tournament.
“On the second day, it was more of a consistent round — no blow-ups, no streaks of birdies. It wasn’t a very exciting day,” Lalier said. “It feels really good. It was kind of a relief. I shot two good rounds. I missed it by a stroke last year.”
This year, his 157 beat the cut by one stroke.
Numerous local youth golfers hit well when it counted July 20 and 21 and will play July 29-31 for the state championship. Among the top performers was Sammamish youth Li Wang, who took first place in the 14-15 age group. He shot a two-under (72, 70) and beat Mercer Island’s Charlie Kern by three strokes.
This will be Lalier’s first time at the state junior golf tournament.
“I’m really excited to get the whole experience of it. I’m looking to just relax and be consistent,” Lalier said. “I’m not expecting to go out there and win, I just want to play my game and try and be consistent with it.”
Sammamish’s Megan Wotherspoon will also play at state. She took the fourth qualifying spot in the 14-15 age group after shooting a first-round 94 and second-round 85.
“After the first day, I was tied for fourth and really wanted to make it to state, so I was motivated,” Wotherspoon said after the tournament. “Most of my putts were going in. The first day, I was struggling a lot with putts. But the second day, they were just working for me.
“A little bit of it might have just been luck, but I spent more time reading my putts,” she added. “I was more prepared coming into the second day.”
Local athletes acknowledged Willows Run presented unique challenges. In particular, Wotherspoon and Lalier said, the course had a lot of hazards.
“It seems like every hole had a hazard somewhere,” Lalier said. “I managed to avoid them, though.”
Golfers also had to be more accurate, too, as the fairways tended to be narrower than courses they’re used to.
“Think it was a narrow course and sometimes, my drives wouldn’t go straight and would fade into the hazards,” Wotherspoon said.
Woodinville’s Jarrett Foote shot a 142 (71, 71) and tied for first in the 16-17 age group with Bellevue’s Alec Pakzad, who hit a 73 first round and 69 second round.
Sammamish resident A.J. Taylor missed the qualifying mark by just two strokes. He finished the district tournament with a 151-stroke performance. Issaquah’s Nathan Stephenson shot an 84 and a 79 to finish with 163 strokes. Issaquah High School student Kevin Moon also missed the qualifying score, hitting a 155 over the two-day tournament.
Sammamish residents Jordan Windsor and Ben Griffen shot 164 and 167, respectively, in the 16-17 age group.
Following Wang and Lalier in the 14-15 age group, Sammamish’s Jack Strickland shot an 83 and a 75 to qualify for state with a total score of 158. Christopher Kobak missed state by seven strokes, finishing with a score of 165.
Brian Mogg, of Sammamish, followed closely behind Spencer Weiss to qualify for the state tournament in the 12-13 age group. Mogg placed third in the group after hitting a 78 and an 81 (159) at Willows Run.
Wotherspoon’s 179-stroke state-qualifying mark was 20 strokes off the top 14-15 qualifier, Kelly Kennewick, of Woodinville.
“Eighty five was a good score for me and 94 wasn’t my best,” Wotherspoon said. “I definitely could’ve done better than that.”
Ying Guan, of Sammamish, missed qualifying for state by six strokes. She shot a 185 at Willows Run.
In the girls 12-13 group, Issaquah’s Mersadie Tallman just missed going to state. She finished with a 179, behind the first-place Marianne Li, of Bellevue, who shot a 152.
Ten-year-old Sammamish resident Ashley Fitzgibbons is headed to state after shooting a 96 over two days. She placed second in the 8-11 age group and Madeline Nelson, of Sammamish missed the state cut with a 118-stroke performance. Par for the youngsters was 71 strokes.
Area youths will vie for their respective state championships for three days at Glendale Country Club, Overlake Golf and Country Club and Bellevue Golf Course.