Great Bend, Kan. Pitcher overpowered the par 71 Stoneridge Country Club with booming 300-yard drives that set up four tap-in birdies. Pitcher shot 2-over-par 73 that won medalist honors by five strokes over Salina Central’s Brayden Neuschafer (78).
Salina South captured the regional trophy (331) by a comfortable 18-stroke margin over rival Salina Central (349) with Valley Center (352) capturing the third team berth. The top three teams and five other individuals qualify for the Class 5A state tournament at Emporia Municipal Golf Course May 23.
Pitcher was in a class by himself, booming 300-yard drives that swept up-and-over and around Stoneridge’s tree-lined fairways. The morning started with heavy rain, but developed into a light drizzle most of the day with a wisp of wind.
Pitcher drove close to the green at the 365-yard No. 8 hole for an easy birdie. He whacked a 300-yard plus drive at the par 5 17th hole for a birdie after a splendid bunker shot. Pitcher’s four birdies were all tap-ins, created by his accurate tee shots that created a slight fade.
“I hit a bunch of big drives and had 50 yards on some of the approaches,” Pitcher said. “I wanted to attack it and take advantage of the shorter holes. I knew it would be a good day when I saw I had control of my driver today. I placed the tee ball right where I wanted today.”
Pitcher’s elevation off the tee negated many of the trees at Stoneridge.
“I was weaving in-and-out of the trees, but ending up in the fairway,” he said.
Two poor holes, a triple bogey six and a double bogey five prevented Pitcher from a sub-par round.
“I’m pretty good about leaving it behind,” he said. “By far, this is my best round this year. It’s the first time I’ve shot under-par in a nine-hole round.”
Salina South’s top 10 medalists were third-place finisher Parker Norton (79) and Logan Coble (81).
Also qualifying as top five individuals were Newton’s Tanner Pauls (79), Liberal’s Cameron Riley (80), Newton’s Max Brenneman (81), Great Bend’s Kelby Titus (81) and Liberal’s Dylan Shellenberger (82).
Great Bend’s Titus was unable to take advantage of home course knowledge at Stoneridge Country, which features a tree-lined back nine. He battled accuracy with his driver throughout the round, which created pressure to put the ball back into play. He was unable to get any phase of his game working.
“My driver hurt me today. Nothing was really working right,” Titus said. “It went from driver, to second shots and I had a few lip-outs that didn’t help,” Titus said. “I was mentally out of it when I bogeyed five straight holes.”
Titus hit two accurate tee shots on his final par 3s to qualify by a three-stroke margin.
“I finally went with the flow and I battled to post a score,” he said. “The scores were higher than I expected. It was pretty tough conditions early in the round. The greens were slower than normal and slowed the putts down.”
GREAT BEND 5A REGIONAL
At Stoneridge CC, par 71
TOP 10 MEDALISTS—1. SQ-Jacob Pitcher, Goddard, 73 (34-39); 2. Brayden Neuschafer, SC, 78 (38-40); 3. Parker Norton, SS, 79 (38-41); Tanner Pauls, Newton, 79 (41-38); 5, SQ-Reed Pierce, VC, 80 (38-42); SQ-Cameron Riley, Liberal, 80 (38-42); 7. SQ-Kelby Titus, Great Bend, 81 (40-41); Max Brenneman, Newton, 81 (43-38); Logan Coble, SS, 81 (41-40); 8. SQ-Dylan Shellenberger, Liberal, 82 (41-41); 9. Joshua Reed, SS, 83 (42-41); 10. Zach Williams, VC, 84 (45-39).
TEAM TOTALS—1. Salina South, 331 (Norton 79, Coble 81, Reed 83, Brendan Borcherding 88, Parker Renz 92, Ross Boling 109); 2. Salina Central, 349 (Neuschafer 78, Dane Hoffman 87, Evan Lambert 92, Harrison Jett 92, Mark Grammer 93, Jackson Stetlar 94); 3. Newton, 356 (Pauls 79, Brenneman 81, Michael Dineen 98, Hunter Kerr 98, Hunter Lujano 101, Austin Lakey 101); 4. Liberal 360; 5. Goddard 369; 6. Valley Center 382; 7. Great Bend, 406.