Fife’s Kendall Gray played well enough to put herself in position to compete for a state title.
But the wispy sophomore with the smooth swing will have to iron out a few bumpy moments on two holes on the back nine in order to have a chance to bring home the first-place trophy.
Gray shot even-par through 10 holes in the opening round at the Class 2A girls state championship at Lake Spanaway Golf Course on Tuesday, but she carded a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 11th hole.
Four holes later, Gray found herself in the trees and made a triple-bogey 7.
Those two holes are why Gray, who finished her round with a 78, trails Interlake’s Aleana Groenhout by three strokes at the tournament’s halfway mark.
Gray is alone in second, and North Thurston’s Olivia Lowe and Steilacoom’s Cherokee Kim are tied for third at 79.
Domminque Knapp of Franklin Pierce is tied for seventh at 86.
On the par-4 No. 15 hole, Gray tried to work her ball around the dogleg-left fairway and cut the corner, but her hooking drive was knocked down by a tree and landed along a fence line on the left side of the fairway.
“I was hoping (it would get through),” Gray said.
After conferring with a rules official, Gray took an unplayable lie but wound up hitting another tree when she tried to chip out onto the fairway. Gray ended up taking a 7 on the hole.
But she rebounded with a birdie sandwiched between two pars to close out the round.
On the par-4 16th, Gray two-putted from 25 feet for her par. She then hit a 6-iron to 20 feet from the cup on the par-3 17th and rattled in the birdie putt.
On the final hole, Gray got up and down from just off the green to save par.
“I felt like I played really well,” Gray said. “It was just the two holes that got me. I putted really well today.”
Gray placed seventh at state last year as a freshman
Last year’s team champion, Bellingham, is well on its way to a fourth state title in a row, which would give the Red Raiders 10 state titles in 11 years. The Red Raiders have six players in the tournament and were led by Brooke Branigan’s email@example.com 253-597-8437 @eric_d_williams