The golf season for Garden City High School’s boys has been a little like a hiccup — some good, some average.
On Monday, though, the Buffaloes found their game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as their four-man score of 322 was good enough to capture the Class 6A regional title by 18 shots over host Dodge City and qualify for the state tournament.
The state tournament will be played next Monday at Ironhorse Golf Club in Leawood, and leading the Buffs back to state was junior Sion Audrain, whose 2-over-par 73 at Mariah Hills Golf Course was one shot in front of Hutchinson’s Max Ontjes in the race for medalist honors.
The Buffs also got solid play from Mason Shaddix and Tyler Morren, each of whom shot 82s while Reid Richmeier’s 85 rounded out the counting scores for coach Jacob Waller.
Aaron Schafer and Noah Ortiz had non-counting scores of 90 and 93.
Audrain, the reigning 6A state individual champion, said his game was solid, but not spectacular in his tour of the par-71, 6,489-yard Mariah Hills layout.
“I played pretty good, and it was perfect (playing) conditions,” Audrain said in a telephone interview afterward. “I think it played easier the first time (Dodge City Invitational in April). I just didn’t birdie any of the par-5s, or I might have gone lower.”
His round didn’t get off to a rousing beginning as he bogeyed both the first and second holes, before getting the first of just two birdies all day at the difficult par-4 4th. He would go on to par the next five holes to finish the outgoing nine with a 1-over 37.
On the incoming nine, Audrain bogeyed the 14th and 16th holes while gaining a birdie at the par-4, 13th.
“I hit the driver pretty well and I was chipping and putting alright,” Audrain said. “My iron game was not sharp, and while I didn’t putt bad I didn’t really make anything. A lot of putts were close and I had five or six makeable birdie putts that just didn’t go in.”
Shaddix, Morren and Richmeier were steady throughout their rounds, Waller said, helping the Buffs shoot one of the low rounds of the season at the right time.
Shaddix had nines of 42-40, Morren identical 41s and Richmeier 43-42.
“It was just a solid team scoring today,” Waller said. “We had four reliable scores and were able to punch our ticket to state.”
Waller said it was encouraging to have seen most of his golfers lowering their scores over the final two weeks of the season.
“I think they’ve been taking each shot more seriously and taking their time to manage their way around the course,” Waller said.
Audrain, who didn’t win the 6A regional a year ago before capturing the state title at Auburn Hills Golf Course in Wichita, was encouraged by his performance.
“It’s good to get a decent round in before state,” he said. “It’s good to get my game in shape and have a chance to get it done again. I haven’t played splendid this season, but I hadn’t played that great last year, either. It just gives you confidence to know that you can do it, and I want to go there and see if I can make not a one-time thing.”