Walkersville's Cunningham hangs on to win state crown Whitman's Hong one back

Pikesville's Friedlander 4th

October 21, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Jimmy Cunningham of Walkersville, who had seen all but one stroke from a seven-shot lead disappear by the 18th hole, rolled in a nine-foot putt on the final green to thwart Charles Hong and win the state high school golf championship yesterday at the University of Maryland Golf Club.

On a sunny 70-degree day, where play over the 6,654-yard, par-72 course was affected by gusty 15-mph winds, Cunningham led a 1-2-3 finish by juniors with a 6974--143. Hong of Walt Whitman was a shot back (7272--144), runner-up for the second straight year.

John Scott Rattan of Watkins Mill posted 7374--147 and Ryan Tendall of Wootten, another junior, was fifth with a 8072--152, his par-matching round including three birdies.

Brad Friedlander, a Pikesville senior, placed fourth with 7575--150, a consistent two-day effort that featured no birdies. Additionally, he and Andrew Hoffman (8074--154) led their Baltimore County school to a second-place finish in Class 1A-2A.

Erin Clasper of Wootten successfully defended her girls title when she registered 8578--163 for 5,563 yards. Calli Vance of Arundel was second at 168. Carli Gordon of North Carroll was fourth with a 171, and Lori Koch of North County fifth at 173.

Clasper is the first girl to win successive titles since Dulaney's Kristin Dollenberg in 1991-92.

Walkersville won the 1A-2A team crown with 648, trailed by Pikesville (667), Mount Hebron (672), Francis Scott Key (676), and Towson (684) in the 11-school field.

Winston Churchill, without a player in the first 10, but with four scorers within seven strokes of each other, won the Class 3A-4A title with 635. Whitman had 640, James M. Bennett 652; Wootten 653; Westminster 670, and Dulaney 680 in an 11-school field.

"I was just thinking two-putt," said Cunningham, after his approach stopped 35 feet below and right of the hole. Hong, from slightly closer, put his second shot into the rough, hole-high to the left.

Cunningham's first putt came up short, and Hong then chipped well to a close pin, and the ball rolled 12 feet past the flagstick. His putt caught the right side and fell in for a par. Cunningham then dropped his winning putt dead center.

That put a halt to a stirring comeback by Hong, who had trailed by three at the start of the round, and saw that deficit expanded to seven by the turn.

Hong fired in five back-nine birdies, and shot 33 to close the gap.

"I didn't change anything on the back, but some of the putts started going in," said Hong. Then, speaking of his opponent, he said, "It was just that he was so consistent."

Cunningham, who had tied for fourth last year, said: "I felt really confident on the last putt. It was straight in. I wasn't thinking playoff, I was thinking about making the putt."

Last year, Brit Musser of Wootten set one-day and two-day scoring records with 6772--139, and Hong was 10 shots back.

Clasper, 17, had one birdie, five bogeys, and one double-bogey in her round, and admitted that the wind was definitely a factor. Prior to winning last year, she had been ninth as a freshman and third as a sophomore.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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