May 31, 2002
Cape Henlopen High School’s Viking golf team finished in ninth place in the state golf championship, held May 28-29 at Wild Quail Golf & Country Club near Wyoming.
The occasional lapses of erratic golf that appeared during their 2002 golf season showed up again during the two-day 36-hole event.
Tyler Witman’s courageous effort to defend his 2001 title was the one bright spot in the team’s performance.
On the first day, Tatnall School’s Tim Porter shot a 5-under-par 67, giving him a four-stroke lead over Witman.
By the end of the front nine on the second day, however, Witman took the lead. Unfortunately, he lost two strokes to Porter on the last two holes to finish in second place, only one stroke out of first.
The bitterly disappointed Witman said, “I choked. I just choked.”
With all due respect, shooting 3-under-par on the second round, the best score of the entire slate of golfers competing that day, doesn’t prove Witman choked. He was simply outplayed by the barest of margins.
As the final group approached the par-3 17th tee, Witman held a one-stroke lead. Porter hit his tee shot to within 20 feet of the hole. Witman’s tee shot landed about 20 feet farther. His first putt slid past the hole to a halt four feet away. Porter’s first putt was within 3 feet, and he tapped in for par. Witman’s par attempt just barely missed, and the two were tied.
They teed off on the 18th hole, a long par 5. Both landed in the right side fairway bunker. Porter had a good lie, and put his second shot inside the 150-yard marker. Witman’s ball was in a terrible lie, only a couple yards from the fairway. He had one foot in and one foot out of the bunker, and it was all he could do to reach the fairway 200 yards out.
Witman’s third shot landed pin high in light rough to the right of the green. Porter’s third shot finished on the green’s downslope, four feet below the hole. It was an admittedly great shot.
Witman made a good chip and a par-saving putt, and sat down with his head in his hands. Porter calmly rapped in his birdie putt for his first-ever state championship.
Viking golf coach Jerry Dorneman thought some good could come from the experience. “Winning doesn’t build character. Losing can build character. Tyler played two great rounds, and just missed.”
Each team started with six players on the first day. The four best scorers from each team qualified for the second day, along with any individual players within 10 strokes of the lead. With Porter’s great first round, however, only one or two additional players could compete on the second day.
Brett Hertel shot a good little 82 the first day, second among the Viking golfers in that round. He came back to earth in the second round, however, with a 95. “You name it, it was terrible. I couldn’t drive, my irons were off, and I couldn’t putt. The tees were set back and the pins were tucked, but I’m not blaming the course set-up. It was all me.”
Micah Vugrinic shot 90 both days, with a pair of Jekyll/Hyde nines each time. “On the first day, I started with a 42, and was doing okay. I birdied the 10th hole, and was only five over for the round when I finished 14. Then I finished with a 10, a 7, a 5, and a 6.”
“On the second round, I shot a terrible front 9 for a 50. Then I shot a 40 on the back nine, including a couple birdies.”
Brad Schneider completed the Viking scoring for the two days with his 88 in the first round and a disappointing 96 on the second day. “On the front 9 today I just fell apart. I couldn’t hit anything off the tee, and shot a 54. I used an iron off the tee on the back nine, and scored 42. I really wanted to shoot better.”
The Vikings lose four seniors, Christina Wagamon, Shannon Prettyman, Reinie Vugrinic, and Mike Schneider. The returning squad seemed anxious to work on improving their skills for the next year.