By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
After one round, the Stillwater High School boys golf team was right in the thick of a state berth — trailing Moore by just one stroke.
Then the winds of change swept over Lakeside Golf Course — literally.
A calm morning turned into a blustery afternoon and the Pioneers struggled to adjust as they finished seventh in the Class 6A regional Monday with a team score of 644, 17 strokes behind state qualifier Moore. Edmond North won the regional handily with a 576, 15 strokes better than second-place finisher Edmond Santa Fe.
“We were real close as a team, but unfortunately it was a tough second round in tough conditions,” Stillwater junior Troy Fort said. “It’s hard not to think about that and hard not to put pressure on yourself and we might have pressed a little bit. Plus, the mixture of wind and fatigue didn’t help us either.”
Led by Fort’s 76 on the first 18, everything seemed to be setting up nicely for the Pioneers. Stillwater was playing its best golf of the season on its home course.
Then the Oklahoma wind came sweeping down the plains, taking what would have been solid shots into bunkers and rough.
“We were kind of used to it,” Stillwater coach Larry Hesler said. “When you play in Oklahoma, you play a lot of still mornings and windy afternoon. I don’t think it affected our players that much. You just have to give the field a lot of credit because nobody really blew up second round. We played a really, really good morning round and our second round was higher than our morning round, but that was one of the best ones we’ve put up.
“We were right in it. We played the best golf we’ve played all year long. These were the two best 18-hole scores and this was the best 36-hole score we’ve put up. You can’t really ask more for them than that.”
Even when the wind picked up later in the afternoon, the Pioneers continued to battle. Chris Weir followed a 79 with an 83 for a 162 and Marc Major even lowered his score slightly, carding an 82 to follow his 84 from the morning session to finish with a 166.
“You like that fifth man to shoot a low score every once in a while,” Hesler said. “He did a really good job. He and Troy have kind of become the backbone for us next year, and I think we’ll be OK.”
And what of Fort?
Well, his golf season will continue next week as a 79 on the final 18 proved to be just enough to slip him into the state tournament at Karsten Creek with a 155 total.
“I knew it was kind of in the back of my head,” Fort said. “I tried to push it over to the back burner. I didn’t really want to think about it (while out on the course). I’m so happy. I can’t think of a better place to go to state than to play at Karsten.”
Nathaniel Lauvetz also capped off his career with a 163 — shooting a 79 early before struggling down the stretch over the final three holes for an 84.
“You get to the last three holes and you start to think about the fact that you’re a senior going out,” Hesler said. “I could tell it was weighing on him a little bit. They just have to pick their heads up and finish the last three holes strong and see what happens.”
The winds of change may not have been in Stillwater’s favor Monday at Lakeside, but Hesler is confident another wind of change will be sweeping across Lakeside Golf Course next season — a change for the better as both Fort and Major return for the Pioneers.
“Marc Majors is coming back next year, I get Troy back next year and we’ve got some good sophomores coming up,” Hesler said. “I’m looking forward to next year already.”