Sunday, December 21, 2014

OHS golfers need 'short term memory'

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 5/23/2014

The good golfers have a common trait: keep the emotions in check. That will be one of the keys when the Ottawa High School boys golf team competes Tuesday at the 4A State Tournament at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta.

“We have a great group of kids that don’t let things get to them,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “They have been good at maintaining and not blowing up. Golf is one of those games if something bad happens to you and you let it get to you, it can effect your entire round.

The good golfers have a common trait: keep the emotions in check. That will be one of the keys when the Ottawa High School boys golf team competes Tuesday at the 4A State Tournament at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta.

“We have a great group of kids that don’t let things get to them,” Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said. “They have been good at maintaining and not blowing up. Golf is one of those games if something bad happens to you and you let it get to you, it can effect your entire round.

“Short term memory ... I preach that to them all the time. Hopefully it reminds them to move on. The kids that can do that the best are the ones that are going to do the best.”

There is nothing like the state experience. Junior Quentin Blaue watched his brother play in last year’s state tournament and was part of Ottawa’s 2013 state basketball championship team.

“You get excited ... it is pretty emotional,” Blaue said. “It will be nerve-racking. Once you get that first tee shot off, you will be fine.”

Blaue said watching last year will help. McCullough said that experience, plus the experiences in the different sports may keep the nerves in check.

“Parker [Olmsted] plays enough KGA tournaments, he has been in pressure situations,” McCullough said. “The other sports allows them to handle the pressure really well. It is an emotional game. There is a lot of pressure put on these guys.

“In Kansas, we are one of the few states that have a single-day state tournament. You have one shot at it. That even adds to the pressure. I can’t wait to see how they come out.”

Ottawa played solid all season, including shooting a school-record 296 in winning the Ottawa Invitational.

“We have been competing all year,” Blaue said. “That is how all of us are. We try to win. We have six guys that are capable of shooting low.”

The golfers have had a team-first attitude.

“Our top three guys are so strong and experienced,” McCullough said of Trey Rich, Olmsted and Blaue. “All three played as freshmen. Our other three guys, it has been somebody stepping up. Isaac [McCullough] early on, Patrick [Conroy] in the middle and Monday it was Andrew [Soph].”

McCullough saw he had solid team at the beginning, but it did not guarantee a state spot. Ottawa finished second at regional to qualify as a team for the first time since 2011.

“A lot of things have to come together to get your team to state,” McCullough said. “We knew early this year we had a team good enough to get to the state tournament. But in our regional, we had two other teams we battled with all season long.

“You lose to Paola in some tournaments, you beat them in some tournaments. You beat Iola by one stroke. We knew it would come down to those three teams.

“We were fortunate enough to play better than Paola did. In regional play, it comes down to one day. Everybody has to do their part. We could have taken any four scores and still made it to state. That is pretty impressive.”

Ottawa has had good teams in the past not place high at state or even qualify.

“I am glad we get a chance to experience it,” McCullough said. “We have such a young team. We have had some good golf teams here ... good golfers and never got to go.

“There is nothing like the state golf tournament. Everybody is out there for the same reasons.”

McCullough feels the Cyclones can achieve something the other OHS state teams did not.

“If everything comes together, we have a real good chance of placing in the top three,” he said. “It is going to take some things. We are playing on a really tough course. We don’t know how the weather is going to be.

“We did a really good job of overcoming on Monday. If they settle down and play their game and our top three lead us, I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a top finish out there.”

The squad plays a practice round Monday. McCullough and Blaue said the golfers need to get a feel for the course.

“Make notes on what clubs to hit where and what the greens are doing,” McCullough said. “They need to match what they do in their game with what the course has. They need to look for trouble. Get a feel for how you are going to mentally manage the game. In a tournament like this, it is tough.

“It is not going to be a type of course that you can go at pins all the time. One thing they are starting to understand, par is a really good score. Very few times I have seen a golfer win a state championship under par.”

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