4A state boys golf a test of survival

SPARKS - Mother Nature turned the first day of the NIAA 4A state golf tournament into one of survival.

Rain, heavy at times, and the usual fierce Northern Nevada winds, made breaking par impossible for the 50 players who teed off on the first day of the 36-hole tournament at Red Hawk.

Only one player - first-day leader Adam Tebbs of Green Valley (74) shot under 75 and only 12 players broke 80. Hopefully, better weather will produce better scores in today's final round, which starts at 7 a.m.

Tebbs enjoys a two-shot lead over Sierra Vista's Tatsuro Oshimoto and a three-shot cushion over Darius Estrada of Green Valley, Sean Kim of Palo Verde, Luke Scott of Bishop Manogue and Jared Becher of Reno.

Green Valley shot 408, good for a four-shot lead over Palo Verde and a 12-shot lead over Bonanza. Reno is fourth at 422 and Fallon is fifth at 437.

The two local players in the tournament - Carson's J.T. Cockerill and Galena's Ryan Hill - had so-so first rounds. Cockerill finished with a 7-over-par 79 and Hill fired an 8-over-par 80. Not bad under difficult conditions, but not as good as either player hoped.

Cockerill, the medalist at last week's Northern 4A Regional tournament, struggled with his putter throughout the day. He three-putted twice within the first five holes and missed several makeable birdie putts.

"I hit it really good," Cockerill said. "I had putts from 10 feet and in for birdie from the 10th to the 14th (hole). That's 10 putts right there. If I had made five or six of those, I would have been in better shape.

"They just weren't dropping. I didn't putt well all day. Hopefully they will go in tomorrow."

So does Carson coach Rod Butler.

"I think it was a good round," Butler said. "He only had one bad hole where he tripled and one bad swing on No. 17. I don't think he'll be that far out of the lead. I don't see many people shooting under 75 in these conditions.

"There may have been a little case of the nerves. Early on, I don't think he was taking enough time (with his shots). He picked it up and played much better, especially on the back side."

Cockerill shot a 6-over-par 42 on the front. He had two pars and two bogeys on the first four holes, but ran into trouble on the fifth, a 421-yard par-4. He was in light rough off the tee and just 90 yards from the green, but was too strong with his second shot and caught the bunker toward the back of the green. He skulled his sand shot, sending the ball 20 yards back down the fairway. He chipped on, but three-putted for a 7, putting him 5-over par.

"I hit it really good (off the tee); a great drive," Cockerill said. "I hit my approach a little farther than I wanted. I wanted to land it on the front of the green, but it carried all the way past the flag. I don't know what happened on the sand shot."

He let several birdie opportunities slip away, but only lost one shot to par over the next nine holes.

On the 557-yard par-5 sixth, he was on the back fringe in two and missed a 10-foot birdie putt. He missed another 10-footer for par on No. 7. On No. 10, he missed a 15-footer for birdie. He did the same thing on No. 11. He missed from 12 feet on the par-3 12th and missed a 10-footer on the par-4 13th.

He bogeyed the 14th, but finally sank a putt from 20-foot putt for birdie on the 15th. He hit a driver in the light rough and then hit a lob wedge into the green.

On No. 16, a 529-yard par-5, Cockerill blasted a drive in the short rough on the right side of the fairway. He layed up about 25 yards short of the green with his second shot and hit a flop shot that landed about 8 feet from the flag and rolled in the hole for an eagle to go 4-over par.

Cockerill never saw the ball go in, but was obviously happy with the result.

The momentum that he gained with that shot disappeared on the 198-yard 17th that played straight into the wind. Cockerill hit a 3-iron into the water, leading to a double bogey.

"I was a little quick (off the tee)," Cockerill said. "I was trying to hit it left toward the traps."

The rain started to come right after that, making the par-4 417-yard 18th unusually difficult and Cockerill finished with a bogey, again not bad considering the conditions.

Hill birdied three holes, all par-5s, during his round and had only one double-bogey. He said he never felt comfortable on the greens.

"I had a lot of missed shots," Hill said. "I couldn't get adjusted to the greens. They didn't break as much as it looked like they should."

On the 557-yard par-5 6th, Hill elected to hit a 3 iron off the tee. He followed with a 6 iron to 60 yards, then hit a sand wedge to within 12 feet of the hole and sank the putt.

He hit driver on the 529-yard par-5 10th hole. He followed with a 5 iron that left him on the fringe and then two putted for his second birdie. On the 529-yard 16th, he hit another 3 iron off the tee, layed up and hit a sand wedge to within a foot of the hole.

His only double came when he hit his approach shot on the par-4 7th. His chip back down the hill almost went in the water. He chipped back on the green and two-putted.

NOTES: Fallon was expected to do better, but the Greenwave played without Jason Kirby, who wasn't allowed to play after it was discovered that he was chewing tobacco during last week's region tournament. School officials wouldn't let Kirby play in this week's tournament. Cameron Mills, his replacement, shot a 106.

n Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281


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