By Ken MacLeod
EDMOND – Lane Wallace is 17 and fearless. He flies his pitch shots to the hole and expects them to sizzle to a stop. He goes for pins even when playing safe might have assured victory.
The Yukon seniorâ€™s daring play paid off handsomely over the past four days in the Oklahoma Golf Association Junior Championship, culminating in a 2 and 1 victory over Ty Stites of Sallisaw in the championship match Thursday at Kickingbird Golf Course.
â€œI like to play aggressively,â€ Wallace said. â€œUsually my short game is my saving grace, but this week my putting was not great, but every other part of my game was on.â€
Wallace, who has already committed to the University of Oklahoma, took command of this match with birdie putts of approximately 20 feet on both the 10th and 11th holes to break a deadlock at the turn and take a 2 up lead. He promptly bogeyed the par-5 12th hole, but regained his margin when Stites had tree trouble on the par-4 13th and made bogey.
Wallace made a nifty pitch on 13 to escape his own trouble, then watched as Stites drained a 22-foot par-saving putt on the par-3 14th to stay within striking range.
On 15, Wallace had a short wedge to the pin tucked in the very back of the deep green on the par-5. He went right at it and was shocked when his ball took one hop over the back of the green. Again he pitched close to save par and remain two up.
After both players parred the uphill par-3 16th, Wallace, even though he was two up with two holes to play, went for the pin tucked on the front right of the par-4 17th. It missed slightly right, but again he chipped up to a foot and when Stitesâ€™ birdie putt slid by, the match was his.
â€œI actually did go for that pin,â€ Wallace said. â€œI knew if I missed slightly right, I would have an uphill chip. I was nervous going up to the ball, but once I got there I was fine. Itâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been practicing for my entire life.
â€œI really wanted to get back and win this,â€ said Wallace, who won the age 14-15 bracket two years ago but failed to qualify for match play last year. â€œI know a lot of the guys who have their names on this trophy. I was really disappointed last year and came back with kind of a vengeance and really wanted to be able to say I won this tournament.â€
Stites had erased a two-hole deficit by winning the eighth with a par and the ninth with a birdie, but his ball striking left him few opportunities on the back nine.
â€œI would say fatigue definitely played a part,â€ said Stites, who is going to continue his career in the fall at Cal State Fullerton. â€œMy shots started to stray and I really couldnâ€™t get anything going down the stretch.â€
Wallace was also feeling the strain after walking up the uphill ninth hole and having come off two poor holes. He righted the ship with a blistering drive down the center on 10, leaving a wedge to about 20 feet for birdie, then hit a 7-iron on the 193-yard par-3 11th to 20 feet.
â€œI had hit a good shot in there earlier and so I was feeling good about it on the tee,â€ Wallace said. â€œAnd then having made the putt on 10, I was even more confident about the putt on 11.â€
Stites had advanced to the finals with a 3 and 2 victory over Blake Blaser of Edmond, while Wallace defeated Matthew Braley of Broken Arrow 5 and 3.
ShaeBug Scarberry of Purcell, looking resplendent in her Loud Mouth shorts with socks to match, played a fine match to win the girls championship 2 and 1 over long-bomber Kaitlin Milligan of Norman, who displayed a deft touch on the greens all week to go with her impressive driving.
Milligan edged Nina Lee of Collinsville 2 up in a morning semifinal, while Scarberry defeated Taylor Dobson of Broken Arrow 5 and 4.
Yun Kim of Edmond defeated fellow Oak Tree National member Said Powers of Edmond 3 and 2 in the boys 14-15 division.
Oklahoma Golf Association
Junior Boys & Girls Championship
June 6-9, 2016
Kickingbird Golf Club
Match Play Results
Ty Stites, Sallisaw, Okla. (4) def. Blake Blaser, Edmond, Okla. (9), 4 and 2
Lane Wallace, Yukon, Okla. (6) def. Matthew Braley, Broken Arrow, Okla. (2), 5 and 3
Lane Wallace, Yukon, Okla. (6) def. Ty Stites, Sallisaw, Okla. (4), 2 and 1
Jun Kim, Edmond, Okla. (4) def. William McDonald, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1), 7 and 6
Said Powers, Edmond, Okla. (6) def. Christian McAllister, Oklahoma City, Okla. (7), 20 holes
Jun Kim, Edmond, Okla. (4) def. Said Powers, Edmond, Okla. (6), 3 and 2
Kaitlin Milligan, Norman, Okla. (1) def. Nina Lee, Collinsville, Okla. (4), 2 up
ShaeBug Scarberry, Purcell, Oklahoma (2) def. Taylor Dobson, Broken Arrow, Okla. (3), 5 and 4
ShaeBug Scarberry, Purcell, Oklahoma (2) def. Kaitlin Milligan, Norman, Okla. (1), 2 and 1