PREP GOLF: Marshall’s Schwarz, Plante grind out day one at the state meet in Jordan

By Stephen Wiblemo

Hutchinson Leader

Sports Editor

JORDAN - Competing at the state golf tournament can be intimidating, whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced returner. That’s what Marshall’s Mason Plante and Ana Schwarz discovered Tuesday, on the first day of the 2017 Class AA state golf tournament, on Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan.

For Plante, a sophomore, it was his first trip to state. He shot an 86 on the first day and was in 81st place.

Schwarz is a returner who placed 27th last year with a two-day score of 172. She shot a 92 Tuesday and was tied for 38th place going into the second day.

Despite one having more experience than the other, both were nervous going in and felt they could have played better on their first 18 holes.

“I was for sure nervous,” Plante said after his first day at state. “As a first-timer, you get those nerves going. I started out rough, got back to it about midway through my round, but then ended pretty bad. But, I have tomorrow, so hopefully I can get back at it.”

“The experience did help a lot. I was still nervous on the first tee, but I think everyone is,” Schwarz said. “Going in I was excited about my chances, but after a tough range session Monday I think it drained my confidence.”

The boys teed off in the morning, so Plante played his round first and got off to an ominous start with a pair of double bogeys on the first two holes. Although he was able to settle in and play better overall, he never seemed to get comfortable according to his coach, Kari Ehlers.

“Once he settled in with hitting some good shots and making some decent lag putts, he was doing OK,” Ehlers said. “A lot of times, it felt like he was uncomfortable over the ball. He wasn’t hitting them crisply like he normally does, and wasn’t catching any breaks on the green.”

“I’ve played this course a bunch. As I got a feel for it and the course started going my way, I started playing better,” Plante said. “You have to prepare pretty well for this course. I’m going to be back tonight (Tuesday), working on those greens and putting. I had a lot of putts today.”

On the greens, Plante said he had 36 putts, so cutting down on those will be a major focus of his for the second day.

“I want to shoot a little lower, and definitely putt better,” he said. “I putted really bad today, and I need to change that. I haven’t had less than 35 putts on this course yet, and I need to do that.”

As Plante wrapped up his round Tuesday, Schwarz was just getting started, and putting was not a problem for her.

“Her play around the greens was probably the best I’ve ever seen her play,” Marshall girls coach Gretchen Flynn said. “She was on, getting things close to the hole and giving herself par opportunities when she had the chance.”

The problem for Schwarz, though, was some of her tee shots and approaches.

“My ball striking was not very good,” she said. “That put me in a tough position. I only hit two out of 18 greens today, so I had to scramble a lot. But, my chipping and putting was good. My score could have been a lot worse if my short game wasn’t good today.”

Being a returning state qualifier, Schwarz had her goals set high going into the tournament this year. Although she’s not in as bad of a position as she thought when she finished Tuesday, she’s still had to adjust her expectations.

“Going into the tournament, I wanted to shoot a two-day score in the 150s and finish in the top 10,” she said. “I don’t think that will be doable after today’s round. I reevaluated that and now I want to beat my score and place from last year.”

The two Tigers are scheduled to finish up their state tournaments in Jordan today. Plante was scheduled to tee off at 7:30 a.m. from the 10th hole, and Schwarz is scheduled to start at 12:27 from the 10th hole.