DENVER — Back-to-back top-4 finishes at the Class 5A boys golf state tournament is something most high school golfers would take. However, Lakewood junior Ryan Liao felt he missed out on a prime …
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DENVER — Back-to-back top-4 finishes at the Class 5A boys golf state tournament is something most high school golfers would take.
However, Lakewood junior Ryan Liao felt he missed out on a prime opportunity to win an individual state championship Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver.
“I had nine birdies, but shot 4-over-par on the two days,” Liao said after he shot back-to-back rounds of 2-over-par, 72 to finish tied for third at the two-day state tournament. “It was just up and down for me. I really couldn’t get my consistency down. That was it.”
The final round didn’t start well for Liao, who finished tied for fourth last year at the state tournament. He bogeyed 2, 3, 5 and 7 to pretty much take him out of a shot of winning the tournament.
Still, the junior battled with birdies on 8, 11 and 15 to get back into the top-5. Back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17 took a little momentum away, but Liao finished strong with a birdie on the closing hole to climb into a tie for third.
“I knew someone could go low,” Liao said about not being surprised about Arapahoe sophomore Will Kates shooting a final round of 4-under-par, 66 to win the tournament by six strokes. “I could have gone that low yesterday the way I was hitting the ball.”
Liao proved his experience not letting a bad hole get to him too much. Even with a string of three straight bogeys on Day 1 that closed out his front-nine, Liao quickly bounced back with birdies on 10 and 12 to stay in contention.
“It’s just experience and understanding that this is just one tournament. It’s not your whole career,” Liao said. “You lose one shot you just have to be OK with it. You still have a few holes to play and keep on playing.”
Sophomore teammate Max Lange finished 19th with a 12-over-par state tournament performance. Lange claimed the 5A Jeffco individual medalist title this fall, but had some struggles at regionals and state.
“I’m pretty confident about next year,” Liao said with junior Noah DiBiase and sophomore Jace Wright both returning next year after taking 2nd-team all-conference honors behind Lange and Liao. “We just have to all find our game at regionals.”
Another hope for Liao is some more challenging courses, specifically longer courses for the state tournament. The Pinehurst course played 6,459 yards at the state tournament.
“I want to play some longer courses,” Liao said of his wishes for the state meet next year. “Playing courses that are 6,500 yards is something I think we shouldn’t do. I’m taking 6-iron off the tee and hitting pitching wedge into the green on par 4s that is kind of unbelievable.”
At the 4A state tournament held on Oct. 7 and 8 in Montrose, Evergreen junior Jack Mitchell was the top Jeffco finisher. The runner-up for the 4A Jeffco medalist placed tied for 11th with a two-day score of 9-over-par.
D’Evelyn senior Medhaj Shrestha finished off a fine prep golfing career finishing in a ground tied for 14th, which included Conifer junior Dakota Dolph.
Dennis Pleuss is a media specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com
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