The rules prohibit golfers from kicking the ball, but that doesn’t keep them from kicking themselves, even on the best of days.
For example, Tuesday evening, moments after the Free State Invitational had ended, the expression on Free State senior Wilson Hack’s face starkly contradicted the number next to his name on the leaderboard. He shot a 74, good for a third-place tie with, among others, Lawrence High senior Brett Van Blaricum.
So why did Hack look as if he had just tasted sour milk? He finished his round at Eagle Bend, which he said “is in great shape,” with a double-bogey on No. 18 and a bogey on No. 1, his final two holes. The 15-foot uphill putt to a back-left pin on the par-3 No. 17 gave him a birdie that put him 1-under par.
“I knew I had a stroke to give to finish even par,” Hack said. “I’ve never been more disappointed with my performance. It’s just mind-boggling how you can know you have a stroke to give and give up three.”
The more he thought about his day, the more he realized he had plenty of confidence-boosting material to bring into his next tournament.
“The last two days, I hit the ball better than I ever have,” Hack said, the day after carding an 81 at Lake Quivira Golf Club. “I’ve been trying to relax and swing freely. I have a tendency to tense up before I hit. I just take a deep breath now and relax.”
Van Blaricum, who had shot an 89 at Lake Quivira, traced his 15-stroke improvement the day after pulling putts and drives to keeping “my head still putting” and “staying behind the ball” on full swings.
Free State placed second to Blue Valley North among 15 schools that competed and Lawrence High finished eighth. Blue Valley North’s Evan Shartzer won the individual competition with a two-under 70.
Free State Invitational
Team results: Blue Valley North 302, Free State A 312, Olathe East 316, St. Thomas Aquinas 318, Blue Valley Southwest 320, Shawnee Mission East 320, Blue Valley Northwest 324, Lawrence 326, Free State B 337, Blue Valley West 342, Blue Valley 349, Shawnee Heights 355, Olathe Northwest 368, Shawnee Mission Northwest 390, Leavenworth 410.
Free State A: Alex Green 37-42—79, Wilson Hack 35-39—74, Max Soto 36-42—78, Hunter Dedloff 43-48—91, Jack Flynn 39-42—81, Austin Kastl 43-42—85.
Lawrence : Brett Van Blaricum 38-36—74, Cole Cummins 44-42—86, Cedric Fuss 47-47—94, Rito Mendez 41-39—80, Brad Strauss 46-41—87, Tucker Sutter 40-46—86.
Free State B: Nick Hay 41-45—86, Matt Siler 37-41—78, Colton Steele 40-45—85, A. McCauley 44-45—89, B. Pfannenstiel 41-47—88, Jack Soto 54-48—102.