Stillwater News Press

May 6, 2013

Pioneers Fort battles through tough first day of state tournament

By Nick Snow
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Thrity-six holes of golf is tough on anyone — even the most seasoned pros.

It’s even harder with a stress fracture in your left leg.

But for Stillwater High School junior Troy Fort, none of that mattered. Fort was determined to play — and play well — in the opening round of the Class 6A state golf tournament Monday in front of several hometown fans at Karsten Creek.

“It hurts,” Fort said. “That second 18 was a struggle and it definitely showed in a few holes. There were probably a few mistakes out there, a few errant shots, because of it.”

No doubt, Fort was feeling the burn as he walked up and down the alternating terrain that causes so many awkward shots and so much anguish for even the best of golfers. Couple that with a horrendous start in the first 18 and you have a recipe for a total meltdown.

Through it all, Fort kept fighting to turn in a 33-over 177 — including an 88 in the second round. And even that score could have been lowered, had it not been for an unlucky break on a birdie attempt at No. 11 or a shot that carried the green on 18.

“Those greens are so tough,” Stillwater coach Larry Hesler said. “Those things that look like tap-ins aren’t tap-ins, especially if you’re on the wrong side of the hole. He hit a good shot in there at 11. Any time you have a chance for a birdie on that hole, it’s got to be a pretty good shot.”

As the day progressed, Fort even learned a little about the course he had never played before Friday. Shooting a 48 on the front nine to open the day, he managed to bring that score down a bit the second time through — doing all he could to survive the treacherous final three holes of the front nine.

“I was able to figure out a few things as I went along,” Fort said. “I figured out on a few holes that I had to do something different — hit it in a little bit better spot. ... You just kind of have to survive the front nine. The 7-8-9 are brutally tough holes. You just got to get through those hole and then it opens up on the back a little bit.”

In fact, the only real problems he had on the back nine involved his group’s pace in the second round, where his group actually had a 14-minute window to complete the 13th hole — a hole Fort had double bogeyed earlier — or encure a one-stroke penalty.

And while Fort’s group had no problem — finishing a shade under 12 minutes — the junior said it did rattle him a little.

“It’s not a huge thing, but it definitely helps,” Fort said. “It’s definitely a killer in a tournament to have to sit there and wait. But it wasn’t a big deal. You just have to think through things faster. You have to think about your shot as you walk up to your ball, which is probably something you should do anyway.”

It may not have been an ideal day for the Stillwater native on his hometown course, but the experiences he

“The big thing for Troy is the experience,” Hesler said. “Getting out here as a junior, will help him because he’s got one more year to go. Hopefully, if we can get out here as a team next year, he’ll be able to lead the team more because not many of my guys ever get out here. I’ve talked to them about how fast the greens are out here, but Troy will be able to tell them that they have to know where they’re hitting the ball, they have to know which part of the green to hit to.

“He’s got one more day out here, got one more year to come back. We’re young and next year we should be right in it. I’m looking forward to next year already.”

As far as the tournament itself, Edmond North’s Hayden Wood — an Oklahoma State recruit — shot the low round of the day, tallying a 66 on the second 18 to help the Huskies drop 13 strokes in the second round as they look for their ninth straight title.

Defending champion Max McGreevy of Edmond Santa Fe leads by one stroke after the first day, while Edmond North’s Wood, Nick Heinen and Norman North’s Thomas Johnson are all hot on his heels. Johnson opened the day with a 4-under 68 for the lead in the first round.