The record-breaking shot happened less than six months ago, on a spring afternoon at Lake Spanaway Golf Course.
Riley Killip already had a comfortable lead heading into the final hole at the Class 4A Narrows League tournament — in its final iteration — but ended it with extra pizazz.
He stroked a lob wedge, 99 yards from the pin, onto the green, and watched it trickle into the cup for an eagle-2.
Sporting two records — Killip’s 8-under-par 64 was a single-round league mark, and his two-day score (12-under 132) a tournament record — the left-hander walked off the course as the final 4A Narrows champion.
“That was pretty cool,” said Killip, now a senior at Olympia High School. “I try not to relish in what’s happened because there’s always another goal, something else I have to reach.”
The Narrows League, established in 1980, disbanded last spring. Olympia hitched to the only other schools remaining that didn’t drop a classification — Bellarmine Prep and South Kitsap — and joined the 4A South Puget Sound League.
Golf was, arguably, one of the 22 sanctioned sports at Olympia impacted most by the move.
For Killip’s first three high school years — and many before his arrival — Olympia golfed in the spring. The 4A SPSL plays its league matches in the fall.
That means shorter rounds — matches are nine holes instead of 18 because of fading daylight. In the 4A Narrows, golfers played 18 holes during the second half of the season, which Killip, who recorded two back-nine eagles in his tournament win, considered advantageous.
“In order to score well in a nine-hole format, you have to get off to a really fast start,” Killip said. “It’s a lot different with an 18-hole format. I usually have a better back nine.
“I feel like just kind of getting into a rhythm — that’s pretty key with golf.”
Killip, a Sonoma State commit, doesn’t seem too thrown by the new format. He medaled in five of Olympia’s eight dual matches — the Bears won seven of the eight — entering the league tournament.
He’ll compete for his first 4A SPSL title beginning Thursday morning at The Classic Golf Club in Spanaway.
This is the first opportunity for Killip — and other 4A Narrows converts like Bellarmine’s Joe Highsmith and South Kitsap’s Drew Halili — to qualify for the 4A state tournament.
It’s a long break before the next qualifying opportunity at the district tournament next spring.
“I think it will be a little bit tougher than flowing right into state like last year,” Killip said. “I’ll work on my game in the offseason, and work on things I didn’t have time to do before state last year. That’ll be good.”
His short game and driving are areas Killip said he’d like to focus on during the break. He played several Washington Junior Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association tournaments during the summer before his final high school season.
“I really focused on the main part of my game,” he said. “I was struggling off the tee. I worked on hitting fairways and putting the ball where I know it needs to be.”
Circumstances changed for Killip — who has never played a fall sport before — in September. The 4A SPSL is a new league, with a new format, new opponents and new courses.
But, same Killip, Olympia coach Skip Fabritius said.
“He plays his game,” Fabritius said. “The course might change slightly what you do, or dictate what club you hit off the tee, but it won’t matter what other kids are out there. … He’s still going to attack the course.”
Killip played in the 4A Narrows tournament three times at Lake Spanaway. He’s golfed at The Classic in tournaments before, but never as a contender in the 4A SPSL.
He sees similarities in the courses, and subtle differences, too — the green complexes are different, and The Classic has more elevation change, while Lake Spanaway is flatter. But, he said he doesn’t evaluate how courses play to his game.
“Obviously, there are holes I like and don’t like too much,” Killip said. “At the end of the day, you have to play all of them.”
He’s aiming to finish the 4A SPSL tournament much like he did the 4A Narrows last spring — with a win — and said he already has a number in mind he’d like to reach.
“I don’t think he expects to do anything less than first,” Fabritius said. “He’s certainly going to go out with that attitude. If putts drop and drives are straight, he could very well do it again.”