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Two players in 70s push Lakers to victory in TRL golf tourney

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Kevin Gay eyes a tee shot during Monday’s league golf tournament at Waverley Country Club. Gay claimed medalist honors in the event by shooting a 2-over-par 74. That helped Lake Oswego to first place in the team competition. The Lakers shot 318 as a team while Lakeridge took second place with a 332 score.

We're only two weeks into the league golf season and the Lake Oswego boys team is already threatening to run away with the league title.

The Lakers almost made it look easy at Monday's league tournament at Waverley Country Club where they claimed first place with a 318 team score while cross-town rival Lakeridge took second with a 332 mark.

The 318 total was slightly higher than Lake Oswego coach Chris Sheik had expected from his squad but it would be hard to complain, considering the circumstances.

For starters, everyone was coming off a one-week layoff from spring break, so it shouldn't have been too surprising that some players were a bit rusty. Plus, Waverley is one of the most difficult courses in the Portland area and on Monday the greens were treacherous.

'Waverley has some of the toughest greens they'll see,' Sheik said.

So, it was impressive, to say the least, when Lake Oswego's Kevin Gay earned medalist honors by shooting a 2-over-par 74. It could have been even par or better if not for a pair of double bogeys on the par 3's on the front nine.

Earlier, Sheik had called Gay one of the top five golfers in the state. Some coaches try to avoid such claims, fearing the golfer will think more about his potential than the round at hand. But the claim hardly fazed Gay, and Sheik willingly heaped on some more praise following Monday's round.

'I'd be surprised if he shoots higher than 76 or 77 the rest of the year,' the coach said.

Gay, who was playing from the team's No. 2 spot, got a good push on Monday from teammate Jake Sullivan, who shot a 76 while playing in his first varsity match of the season.

With Sheik fielding one of the deepest squads in the state, Sullivan had been unable to earn a varsity spot until this week. After the way he played on Monday, it looks like Sullivan won't be letting go of that spot any time soon.

'Jake has basically told me that he's going to work harder than anyone in the state,' Sheik said.

While Sullivan made the most of his opportunity, the Lakers had three players who back-tracked a bit on Monday. Matt Montpas and Elliot Marshall each shot an 84 to tie for the team's third-best score. The fifth-best score went to Kevin Day with an 86.

Day was playing from the team's No. 1 spot after earning medalist honors two weeks before when he shot a 71. But Monday's round got off to a bad start when Day hit his first tee shot out of bounds. He wound up double bogeying two par-3's, just like Gay did, but he also added in some three-putts on Waverley's difficult greens.

After a long break, a 318 team score at Waverley was nothing to be ashamed of, but Sheik believes his squad will need to be much better to have any shot at a trophy at the state tournament.

'They know that 318 isn't going to get it done,' Sheik said. 'They've got to bring it every day. They can't take a day off.'

But it's hard for anyone to get too complacent when there's eight players vying for five varsity spots each week, and each one of them is good enough to claim league medalist honors at any given tournament.

'I think any of our players could be in the top two or three on just about any other team in the league,' the coach claimed. 'And I wouldn't be surprised if we had a week or two where we had four guys go low.'

To many people, it might sound like Sheik is already laying claim to the league title. In fact, the crown will be hard to wrestle away from the Lakers, but Sheik wants his players working towards a bigger goal.

'I don't want the team to be over-confident by any means,' the coach said. 'But we're really gearing up for the end of the year.'

If anybody in the Three Rivers League can beat Lake Oswego but probably would be Lakeridge. Like the Lakers, the Pacers didn't play their best golf on Monday, but they were still good enough to beat third-place Clackamas by seven strokes.

'I think Lakeridge can play a lot better,' Sheik offered. 'I have a feeling they'll give us some good competition before the year is over.'

In fact, 'I hope it's a dogfight the rest of the year,' Sheik added.