It’s an uphill battle to be from Hermiston and become the state champion 5A boys golfer in 2011.

The 36 holes of near-flawless golf that Kurt Simmons played this week at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks at the OSAA 5A boys golf state championships deserves much more than just a polite golf clap. It is worthy of the type of cheers and applause he would draw from a near capacity at times during basketball this winter in Dawg House after draining three-point shots against Pendleton.

First year head coach Mike Frink said that he saw most of Simmons’ 145 shots and he only remembers one that went array. Two steady rounds of golf with 23 pars, six birdies and seven bogeys. The only other golfer in the top-15 that played the two day tournament without any scores higher than bogey was Summit junior Dylan Cramer, who tied for second, but had 13 bogeys.

Simmons beat Cramer and the rest of the field because he was more consistent this week.

“I knew exactly what I was going to hit off of each tee and exactly what I was going to do,” Simmons said. “I just picked specific targets and swung aggressively the whole day and just really tried to stay calm no matter how good I did or how bad I was going to do I was just going to have the same feeling inside the whole time and I was just going to see how it went.“

The Masters is arguably the most famous golf tournament in the world. If you’ve ever watched even a little bit of coverage on the last day of the tournament you’ve heard the announcers talk about the roar of the crowd on the back nine. There are scoreboards strategically placed around the grounds so spectators, and the players if they would like, know exactly what is going on during the tournament.

It is quite a different atmosphere at the high school state championships. You’ll see a few parents here and there walking the course. Maybe a couple parents will clap if something really spectacular happens, but there are no scoreboards for them, or the players, to follow the action, either.

There were no roars after Cramer opened the second round with a birdie. Simmons had no way of knowing that because of Cramer’s birdie on the first Tuesday and his own back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 his third and fourth holes of the day he had lost the lead for one hole. Simmons would birdie the 14th to share the lead again and then become the sole leader after Cramer bogeyed the sixth.

“It’s just like the back nine on Sunday you just have to get it done,” Simmons said. “I wasn’t playing with anybody that was even close to my score and I had no idea what was going on and I just try to stick to my routine and just hit each shot the best that I could.”

That even-keeled mindset, a confidence in every swing he planned to take and the years of practice to give him the peace of mind to know that he could hit any shot that he needed to all helped Simmons.

This is one of those stories where hours upon hours of worked paid off because it isn’t easy to play nearly flawless golf for 36-holes. Ask the rest of the competitors at the 5A state tournament, they couldn’t do it. Only Simmons could.

Erick is the news/sports director for KOHU/KQFM. He is also the play-by-play voice of Hermiston High School athletics. Complain to him at eolson@eotnet.net.

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