Carson golf wins again in tough conditions

RENO - The eight Sierra League golf teams met up Tuesday with Northern Nevada's Four Horsemen at Washoe Golf Course.

First came strong winds. A bone-chilling cold followed soon thereafter. Then it began raining at about 3 p.m. As several soaked golfers approached the last couple holes, looking like refugees out of a color version of "Night of the Living Dead," snow took over.

Then all four elements - wind, cold, rain and snow - joined forces. Finally, at 4:32, with the putting greens turning into putting whites, the tournament was called because of the snow.

When it was all over - and the scoring was totaled only for the first nine holes - the Carson Senators were atop the leader board, having won their second tournament in a row.

Led by senior J.T. Cockerill, who saw a par-72 negated, Carson won with a score of 205, outdistancing second-place Reno, which finished with a 219.

South Tahoe (235) took third, followed by Douglas and Wooster (236 apiece), North Valleys (253), Damonte Ranch (274) and Hug (337).

The 17-year-old Cockerill scored a tournament-best 36 on the front nine, followed by Reno's T.C. Chartkunchand and Andrew Amadin (39), and Carson senior Matt Mitchell (40). Three Senators - Scott Jenkins, Jimmy Potter and Zack Rispin - tied for fifth with Douglas' Troy Shields (43).

Asked about his strong play in such adverse conditions, defending Northern 4A Region champ Cockerill credited consistent shots.

"I got up and down a lot," he said. "I had some good pars coming through at the end. It (the weather) got real bad on 15 and 16. I had two (double bogeys) on the course, but I had a good putt on 17 and birdied. I just missed a birdie on 18. I kept it in play - kept it close on the greens and made a lot of putts there."

With the snowflakes and raindrops bombarding the players, one would wonder if positive imagery - perhaps that of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models waiting with hot chocolate by a fireplace in the clubhouse - helped guide them through the weather.

Cockerill supplied a less colorful and far more practical scenario.

"We practice in every kind of condition," Cockerill said. "We're used to it. Snow, rain - we're used to it. We've been doing a lot of putting drills - some short stuff. You miss a lot of greens in bad weather. I'm happy with the team. We did all right for these kind of conditions."

Mitchell, who carded an 81 through 18, did concede - ever so slightly - that the conditions weren't exactly beneficial to his game.

"That was some nasty weather out there," the 18-year-old senior said. "I definitely had a few bad shots. I made some mental mistakes. The weather wasn't that out of control. But it didn't help me though."

At least the snow and wind didn't. Interestingly enough, Mitchell didn't mind the rain.

"It was a nice rain. It slowed the greens down," Mitchell said. "The greens were cruising out there. Silver Sage (Golf Course) is definitely easier. This course has tricky greens - they're smaller and harder to play."

Mitchell said he had four birdies, a chip-in and two double-bogeys, but no triples. One Sierra League coach said at least one player took a 15 on one hole.

Steven Hein, Carson's sixth golfer, carded a respectable 49. Only a team's top five scores are counted.

Mitchell said he is happy with his teammates' collective performance this year.

"We're looking pretty good," he said. "We're a sound, tight group. We go out to breakfast together before tournaments. We like hanging out together. Coach (Rod Butler) runs a good program. I wouldn't be here without his coaching and I'm sure some of the guys on the team would say the same thing."

So it appears the team that hangs out together - and maybe builds snowmen on the greens together - is the team that wins together.

So far.

"It turned out OK, but we should've played better," Butler deadpanned before chuckling. "To me, 43s (on the front nine) - those guys should've grinded it out. The weather was not enough (for such a score). On the backside, OK - but not on the frontside. I think the guys had a letdown and gave away a few shots on the frontside.

A Reno coach was overheard telling his players they were going to run three miles today for their performance on Tuesday. Butler was not quite as demanding.

"We've got Wildcreek (Golf Course) next Tuesday. Maybe we can play the whole 18," Butler said. "We'll go back to work on what we messed up on those (front) nine holes."

And maybe Northern Nevada's Four Horsemen will cooperate and ride off long enough for them to do so.


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