EMPORIA — Even after playing his first four holes in 3 over par at Monday’s Class 4A state golf tournament, Hays High's Tradgon McCrae didn’t think he was out of running for the state title.
“I know what I’m capable of and that I can get back into things easily,” McCrae said.
Sure enough, McCrae did just that. By the time he stepped onto the 14th tee box at Emporia Municipal Golf Course, McCrae was not only back in the tournament, but leading it. A birdie-eagle-par-birdie start to his back nine got the Indian junior to 2 under.
In the end, he couldn’t keep it there. A late double bogey cost McCrae a shot at being in a playoff for the title, relegating him to a playoff for fourth which he won on the third hole over Andover Central’s Cooper Schultz.
“I’m just happy with the way I finished it, even par,” McCrae said. “I was 3 over at one point, so I can’t really be mad about where I finished. I just had two bad holes today and that’s what cost me. I know I can do better than that.”
The first double was more annoying than costly as McCrae hit his tee shot out of bounds on No. 4 after already making bogeys on Nos. 1 and 2 before a birdie on No. 3.
He immediately bounced back with a birdie on the par-3 fifth and then parred out on the front nine.
His length off the tee set up his hot start to the back nine as McCrae hit his drive on the 330-yard No. 10 to 10 yards off the green and chipped to within five feet. He followed with an eagle, hitting a 7-iron from 205 yards out on the 484-yard hole to eight feet and making the putt.
On 13, McRae hit his drive to 20 yards on the 377-yard hole and again chipped to less than five feet.
At that point, he was rolling.
“I felt good and I knew I had a chance,” he said. “That double bogey I had, I knew it hurt.”
On No. 16, McCrae caught a flier on his approach and sent his second shot 20 yards over the green. After chipping on, he three-putted, missing a two-footer for bogey.
McCrae’s fourth-place finish led Hays to a runner-up showing as a team. The Indians posted a team score of 307 and finished 17 shots behind Andover Central, which won with a 290.
Peyton Kieffer shot a 76 and tied for 17th, while Joshua Norris just missed a top-20 finish, tying for 25th with a 78.
“Coming in we knew how good Andover Central was,” Hays coach Mark Watts said. “We also knew Wichita Trinity was good and Andale, too. We just wanted to get a trophy, so second place was great. We were team champions two years ago and kind of faltered on the back nine last year, so this was kind of redemption.
“I was just so happy for my seniors that they were able to get back and do this.”
Andover Central 290, Hays 307, Andale 308, Wichita Trinity 312, Chanute 314, Wamego 319, Fort Scott 322, Hayden 336, Tonganoxie 339, Ottawa 345, Girard 348, Marysville 359.
1. Ellington, Andover Central, 69; 2. Dillon, Wamego, 70; 3. Wilson, Andover Central, 70; 4. McCrae, Hays, 71; 5. Schultz, Andover Central, 71; 6. Wilson, Wellington, 72; 7. Fuentez, Parsons, 73; 8. Austin, Rose Hill, 73; 9. Carney, Andale, 74; 10. Wheeler, Chanute, 74; 11. (tie) Dillon, Louisburg; Majors, Wichita Trinity; Hartsock, Spring Hill and King, Fort Scott, 74; 15. (tie) Leake, Labette County and Vanlandingham, Wichita Trinity, 75; 17. (tie) Carlson, Chanute, Kieffer, Hays; Saffell, Wellington and Sutherland, Arkansas City, 76.
Other Hays scores — Kieffer, 76; Norris, 78; Zollinger, 82; Schlaefli, 97, Kreutzer, 98.