Cockerill wins, Carson finishes third

RENO - It was a bittersweet day for the Carson High golf squad.

J.T. Cockerill won medalist honors at the NIAA 4A golf tournament at Lakeridge Golf Club, but the Carson High team faltered and failed by two strikes of reaching next week's NIAA State Championships.

Fallon (797) and Reno (810) will be the two Northern Nevada teams making the drive to Sparks next Monday and Tuesday. Joining Cockerill are Galena's Ryan Hill, Wooster's Bobby McCracken, Bishop Manogue's Luke Scott and Reed's Adam Keefer.

Cockerill didn't think his 151 would be enough to win, but the cold and wind plus a back nine breakdown by Reno's Jared Becher, the first-day leader, enabled him to win the tournament.

"I'm really happy I won," Cockerill said. "I thought Jared would finish better than he did. He had a bad back nine.

"I played well. I didn't hit it great (off the tee), but I putted real well. I just wish our team could have gone as well."

Cockerill birdied two holes - Nos 8 and 11. On the par-5, 536-yard eighth, Cockerill reached the green and two putted for his first birdie. On the par-4 11th, he hit a wedge to inside 2 feet and sank the putt.

However the most impressive part of Cockerill's round was his mental approach. There was a controversy on the third hole. His drive landed in what he thought was a hazard. His playing partners said he was out of bounds. Unsure of what to do, he played a provisional ball. He finished the hole playing both balls. He recorded a bogey and double bogey, but it was later determined by the rules' director that he could keep the lower score.

The ruling was huge. A double bogey would have put him into a tie for the championship and forced a playoff.

"He (Cockerill) played well," Carson coach Rod Butler said, "Not knowing what was going to happen on the third hole. He was able to overcome that, stay focused and play well the rest of the way."

Butler wishes the rest of his squad could have grinded out some better scores. Tyson Roser bounced back from a first-round 88 to shoot 80. Brice Crook shot 85, Kyle Winter 87, Kyle Bacon 91 and Matt Mitchell 84. Roser and Cockerill were the ones to improve their score from the first round.

"We were there, we just didn't close well," Butler said. "We had some bogeys and double bogeys on the last few holes. I'm sure Reno could say the same thing.

"It was a great tournament. Last year in the second round we didn't give ourselves a chance. This time we did."

Roser said the key to his comeback is that he was much more relaxed. He shot 40 on each nine.

His only birdie came on the par-4 17th when his tee shot landed only 20 yards from the green. He made a difficult pitch over the trap and drained a 10-foot downhill putt.

Roser said he only used his driver a few times. He had early success with his iron off the tee and decided to stay with it.

You had to feel for Crook, whose first-round 80 was a huge reason why the Senators led after the first day. It was his career-best round and somewhat unexpected. He was well on his way to another round in the low 80s when disaster struck. He finished with back-to-back double-bogeys.

On the par-4 17th, he hit his approach shot in the bunker and three-putted the green. On the par-5 18th, he hit his tee shot in the water and never recovered.

Bacon, who made the turn at 9-over-par, also struggled on No. 18, carding a double-bogey 7.


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