By BRETT MARSHALL
LAKIN — On a day so untypical of southwest Kansas in the early spring, Syracuse High School golfer Alex Zuzelski had an untypical 18-hole round of tournament golf.
Through regulation play, the Bulldog left-handed senior failed to make a single birdie en route to a 5-over-par 77 at the Louck's Municipal Golf Course in Lakin to share first-place scoring honors with host Lakin's Chris Ramos.
Despite ideal weather conditions on Friday, Zuzelski and Ramos were the only players to break 80 on the tight layout with small greens.
But when the two went out for the sudden death playoff to determine medalist honors, it was Zuzelski who came up with the highlight shot of the day when he knocked a wedge to within six feet from 90 yards away and then knocked his birdie putt into the heart of the cup to claim the top spot of the first prep golf tournament of the season.
Ramos, meanwhile, had driven his tee shot into the short right rough, flew the sloping green on the 8th hole from approximately 120 yards and then had a difficult lob shot that rolled 15 feet past the hole where he proceeded to miss his par putt. He could only stand by and watch as Zuzelski then drained his winning putt.
"It feels really good to get a win right at the start," Zuzelski said. "I didn't really make many putts today, certainly not for birdie, but to make birdie on the playoff hole feels great."
Of his 90-yard wedge shot that landed on the front portion of the green that slopes from back to front, Zuzelski said, "Probably the best shot I hit all day, considering the circumstance."
On the team side of the competition, the host Broncs garnered their ninth consecutive title with a 323 total, easily outdistancing runner-up Syracuse, which finished at 343. Scott City was another 15 shots back at 358 for third.
"We've had a lot of success here at home with the tournament so we expect to play well and to do well," LHS coach Travis McAtee said. "The kids have practiced well leading up to this and I thought they responded to the challenge."
In addition to Ramos' 77, Aulton Burnett had an 80, Alex Jones an 81 and Kalen Anderson an 85.
"Kalen played especially well since he didn't play last year, but he had played some varsity as a freshman and sophomore, so we know that he can do well," McAtee said. "I would have been happy with something around the low 330s, so to get to the low 320s I'm very happy."
Zuzelski said that he always has had trouble playing the Lakin golf course and thus was even more pleased to finish off his prep career there with an individual title.
"I never seem to get the ball in the right place here, but today, I just played safe and for the most part avoided getting into a lot of trouble," the Syracuse senior said. "I've always made a big number somewhere here, but today I didn't."
Coming down the stretch of regulation, Zuzelski said he knew he was trailing Ramos by one shot heading into the final hole of regulation.
"I took my driver out, which I never do there, and hit it hard," Zuzelski said. "It got me down far enough that I just had a short approach shot into the green and Chris was further back."
Zuzelski made par on the par-4 hole, while Ramos bogeyed to pull into a tie and send it to sudden death.
Burnett's 80 shared third place with Zuzelski's twin brother, Adam, and won on a scorecard playoff. Jones' 81 was good for fifth lowest score of the day.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.