Having placed fourth at state last year, experience helped Ridgefield’s Brett Johnson at the Class 1A state golf tournament Wednesday in Dupont.
Johnson knew two things that many of his fellow competitors did not — how to fix your ball marks on the green, and how to make birdies when it counts.
Johnson made three birdies on the back nine to shoot a 2-under-par 70 and capture the Class 1A state title by four strokes with a 36-hole total of 141.
“I worked really hard throughout the winter, playing in as many tournaments as I could so I could get as much experience as I could,” Johnson said. “I wanted to go into state feeling like I was the golfer who worked the hardest to get there.”
Johnson opened the tournament Tuesday with a 1-under 71 and took a two-stroke lead over Ilwaco’s Ryan Kukula. But a slow start for Johnson on Wednesday allowed Kukula to make a charge by the turn.
“Ryan was playing great,” Johnson said. “He was 2-under after nine. But I felt really confident heading into the back nine. I birdied 10 and 11, and then stayed solid. I got another birdie on 16 and finished strong.”
As a sophomore last year, Johnson placed fourth in the 2A state tournament in Yakima. Johnson finished that tournament with a 1-under 71, his first under-par round for 18 holes.
This week in Dupont, just south of Tacoma, Johnson topped that effort with a pair of under-par rounds.
And the conditions Wednesday were less than ideal.
“It just poured all day,” he said. “And the greens were a little bumpy, but that’s what you expect when you’re playing with high schools kids who don’t know about fixing your marks.”
Also, playing in a league with Ilwaco, which captured the 1A state team title with three golfers in the top six, helped Johnson.
“All those Ilwaco guys are great guys,” Johnson said. “Playing them in league helps because I know exactly what to expect. It makes my win more satisfying knowing there are good teams and players in 1A.”
And added bonus was helping Ridgefield place second in the team standings. Ilwaco won going away with a 155 points. Ridgefield was second with 56, just ahead of Lynden Christian’s 52.
Taylor Konkright, who placed 34th, also made the first-day cut, making Ridgefield eligible for a team score.
In the Class 2A state tournament in Spanaway, Hayden Christensen earned the best placing of his high school golf career, leading Hockinson to second place in the team race.
Christensen, a senior, followed up his 78 on Tuesday with a 76 Wednesday at The Classic Course. His two-day total of 154 was good enough for a tie for fourth place.
Ryan Wallen of Blaine won with a 143. He shot a 70 on Wednesday, the only player under par on what Hockinson coach Dennis DeWitt called an extremely challenging course.
Nick Huff improved on his first-round score for the Hawks, shooting a 77 to follow his 79. The sophomore finished in a tie for sixth.
Jarred Gomez also made the cut for Hockinson. He shot an 89 and finished in a tie for 38th.
The three Hawks got enough points to finish second to Interlake.
“I look at this as continuing the legacy a little bit,” DeWitt said.
The Hawks have won three team titles and now have two second-place finishes in the program’s history.
“It was a good, strong finish,” DeWitt said. “I’m really happy with how the boys played. They did a really good job.”
Washougal’s Connor O’Neill, last year’s 2A state champion, bounced back from a rough opening round to finish 14th at 159.
Elsewhere at state golf, Union’s Alistair Docherty cut five strokes off his first-round score, shooting a 73 Wednesday and recording the best local finish (12th place) at the 4A boys tournament with a 151. In 4A girls, Union’s Belex Cheng was the top local finisher in 13th at 158.
Prairie’s Tyler Porter was the best local finisher in the 3A boys tournament, placing 31st at 153.
Prairie’s Maddy Ward, who had the thrill of making a hole-in-one during Monday’s practice round at Liberty Lake Golf Course in Spokane, dropped six strokes off her first-round score to place 11th at 166. Ward aced the 16th hole Monday with a pitching wedge from 119 yards for her first hole-in-one.
In the 2A girls tournament, Woodland’s Nicole Sallee and Hockinson’s Kelsey Whiles tied for 14th at 179.