Garber defends 3A boys golf title

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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RIDGEFIELD — Winning can make a lot of things better.

"I couldn't feel my hands the whole round," junior Frank Garber from Juanita of Kirkland said Wednesday.

photoFrank Garber of Juanita High School, won the 3A state boys golf championship at Tri-Mountain Golf Course on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

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He did not fumble when he was handed the first-place medal, though.

Garber successfully defended his title Wednesday, going an extra hole to win the Class 3A boys golf state championship at Tri-Mountain Golf Course.

Cold hands, wet clubs, soaked shoes. None of that mattered to the last two golfers when their final round finally came to an end after some six hours on the course.

Even the second-place finisher said he had a great time.

Garber defeated Patrick Sato from Interlake of Bellevue on the first playoff hole, getting a sand-save par for his second title in a row.

"It's amazing," Garber said. "This is the biggest high school tournament of the year, and I think 3A has the best field (in Washington). It definitely means a lot to win this again."

"I tried my best. He just ended up having a better score than me," Sato said. "I still had a bunch of fun."

Sato actually had the best round of the day, the only player in the 44-person field to break par. His 1-under 71 was good enough to erase a two-shot deficit and get him into a playoff. Garber, the first-round leader, shot a 73 Wednesday. Both players ended up at 1-under 143 for the tournament.

Garber owned the playoff from the start. Hitting first on the par-5, his drive was safe, just barely missing the fairway. Sato, though, hooked his ball into the hazard.

"I just tried to make a patient swing," Garber said. "I'd been hitting the ball great all week. There was a lot of pressure, for sure. It was really great to get a good tee shot and get the hole started the right way. Unfortunately, Patrick hit his right into the water."

Sato would get to the green on his fourth shot, and when Garber put his third shot into a sand trap, there was still some hope for Sato. But a long chip and two putts for a double-bogey gave Garber two putts to win after a solid bunker shot. Garber sank his first putt for the par.

Of the 44 players who made the cut, only five improved on their first-day scores. Tuesday's round started with just clouds and then some rain and wind. It was all rain and wind for all of Wednesday's round.

The final two groups — foursomes rather than threesomes — were nearly an hour behind the rest of the pack as one group asked for several rulings regarding standing water. Players also waited for the greens to have water rolled out of their way before attempting their putts.

The weather was a downer for the region, hosting four tournaments. But at least one golfer said this is life in Washington.

"It's golf. It happens," said Mountain View senior Taylor Smith, who earned a medal for the second year in a row by finishing in a tie for eighth. He was Clark County's top finisher.

"I kind of lost it there for a few holes. Wasn't really thinking strong. It was affecting everybody. There were puddles on the green. It was brutal," said Smith, who scored a 79 Wednesday after an opening-round 74. "I battled back, though. I birdied 18. It's not like I completely lost it."

Columbia River's Brandon Barnes, a junior in his first trip to state, tied for 13th with a 77-79.

"It was an adventure, to say the least," said Barnes, who accomplished what he set out to do.

"Just to make the cut and be kind of competitive," he said. "I got my goal for this year."

While Sato had to settle for second place for individual play, he did lead his squad to its third consecutive team title. Interlake, with three players in the top 11, scored 111.5 points for the trophy. O'Dea was second at 87.5.