District's learning curve proves a bit steep at end

No. 18 at St. Mary's course disastrous for many players

Golf

October 07, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Jimmy Evans of Centennial was looking good heading into the final hole at the District IV golf championships Tuesday at Wicomico Shores Golf Club in St. Mary's County.

At 74 after 17 holes, with no three-putts and no double bogeys, all the senior needed to win the tournament and qualify for states was a par on the final hole, a short 305-yard par 4.

Instead, his 20-foot chip for a birdie rolled on and off the slick, tilted green, and 10 putts later he not only lost the tournament but failed to qualify for states.

"Any reasonable course wouldn't have had that green," Evans said. "Everyone had trouble. It was tilted at 60 degrees straight downhill."

Scott Spranklin of Oakland Mills, the Howard County Golf Club's spring champion, also struggled on the 18th hole. He nine-putted after getting on in two strokes and failed to qualify.

"That hole was an embarrassment," Glenelg coach Sam Spicknell said. "They had just cut the green and the pin placement couldn't have been harder. It was like a tipped pool table with the pin in the middle. The average score was seven to eight strokes. When you have kids with single-digit handicaps who can't beat 10, something is wrong."

For Brent Kennedy of Howard, the tournament was a mixed bag. He parred the 18th, but his 92 still didn't qualify him. "Out of 80 players, there were only three pars and one birdie on the 18th," Kennedy said. "If you missed your putt, the ball would roll all the way off the green."

Not a single team from the District IV tournament qualified for states, Spicknell said. Only two Howard county players from District IV did -- Vlad Cherkov of Oakland Mills and Matt Balan of Wilde Lake, who each shot 82.

Evans' Centennial squad, a state qualifier last season, was thought to be a certain state qualifier again until it was shifted out of District V at the last moment by District V chairman Jeff Ibex of Westminster, with the approval of State Golf Tournament Director Steve Yachmetz of Gaithersburg.

Centennial was one of six Howard county teams shifted just five days before the District V meet on Sept. 30 because of overcrowding.

Mike Mongelli, director of the all-volunteer Howard County Golf Club, an organization independent of the school system that fields teams at nine high schools and allows players to compete in district and state championships, criticized the last-minute shift on several counts, including the belated timing and the two-hour travel time to St. Mary's County from Howard County. Also, no teams from other counties were switched.

"They switched us to Siberia and there's no way it should have happened," Mongelli said. "They knew last year that the district was overcrowded and they should have done something then."

But Ibex, serving his third and last season as District V chairman, defended his decision.

"Because Howard County doesn't have officially sanctioned teams and wouldn't be taking school buses, they were the easiest teams to shift," Ibex said.

Defending District V champion Mount Hebron, one of three county teams along with River Hill and Long Reach allowed to play in District V, won the Class 1A-2A title again and was the only county team to qualify for states, sending Matt Laun, Scott Zielinksi, Adam Boarman and Brian Shin.

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