Ryan Wallen of the Blaine boys' golf team is two strokes back of the lead as he powered through a couple of rough holes and shot 77 in the opening round of the Class 2A State Tournament on Tuesday, May 22, at The Classic Golf Club in Spanaway.
Wallen finished with four birdies on the day, which helped him greatly considering he started at 3 over par through the first four holes and collected a triple bogey on the 12th hole.
If the defending state champion hopes to make it two straight titles after the final round ends Wednesday, May 23, he said he will have to avoid using his putter as many times as he did on Tuesday.
"It was the most up and down round I've played in my life," Wallen said in a phone interview. "I had to battle after my three-over through the first four holes, and then I got the triple bogey and had to battle after that."
Wallen said he was frustrated with himself heading into the 13th hole after needing four putts to get past 12.
He shook off the rough hole nicely, though, and earned a birdie on 13 to repair some of the damage.
"I was pretty upset, but I have had bad holes before," Wallen said. "Once the hole is done, it is done."
Wallen is two strokes back of Port Angeles' Joe Barnes, who is in first place at 75.
"I could tell after that triple bogey that he was upset with himself," said Blaine coach Steve Barthlow in a phone interview. "But his strength is letting go of a bad hole. You just play the next one and that is what he does best at."
Sehome's Sean Moon is 10th overall at 79 and teammate Will McCarter shot 82 as both advanced to the second day. Addison King of Mount Baker also shot 82.
Moon was tied for third with Wallen headed into the final hole and placed himself nicely on the fairway about 127 yards out, he said.
But with the finish in sight, Moon said he psyched himself out and ended up needing five shots overall to finish out the hole after appearing to have a chance for birdie.
"I think I just freaked out because of the gallery," Moon said in a phone interview. "I just made silly mistakes and didn't finish well. I think it was just me rushing my swing. I had been good with my three irons all day, but I got psyched out because I was playing so well. I guess I got overconfident."
Sehome coach Stu Gorski said in a phone interview a lot of Moon's struggles on the final hole were because of mud on the fairway and harsh weather conditions. But after qualifying each of his two golfers for the final day of the tournament, he said he was happy with the day overall.
"I couldn't be prouder of both of my boys," Gorski said. "Hopefully they go out and get a stroke or two better tomorrow. But regardless of what happens tomorrow, they had a good day today."
Lynden's John McGirr shot 89 and Kyle Mark finished at 94, but both missed the cut for the second day. Lynden earned the Northwest Conference regular-season title.
Squalicum's Jeremy Smith also qualified for the second day of play, shooting an 81 to head to the second round in 14th place.
CLASS 2A STATE TOURNAMENT
At The Classic Golf Club, Spanaway
Top 5: 1. Joe Barnes (Port Angeles) 75, 2. Tyler Carlson (Clarkston) 76; 3. Seth Nickerson (Tumwater) 77, 3. Ryan Wallen (Blaine) 77, 5. Michael Baldec (Clarkston) 78, 5. Brady Calkins (W.F. West) 78, 5. Diego DeLaTorre (Hockinson) 78, 5. Harrison Price (South Whidbey) 78, 5. Andrew Whalen (Ephrata) 78.
Blaine: Ryan Wallen 77
Lynden: John McGirr 89; Kyle Mark 94
Mount Baker: Addison King 82
Sehome: Sean Moon 79; Will McCarter 82
Squalicum: Jeremy Smith 81
NOTE: Edited May 23 to add Jeremy Smith.