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Weather can't stop TRL golfers

It will be interesting to see what happens when we finally get some good weather for a high school golf tournament.

As it is, local golfers are so used to playing in inclement conditions that they hardly seemed fazed when the weather turns nasty. But it was so cold at Monday's TRL tournament at Oswego Lake Country Club that West Linn assistant coach Shawn Hoffman carried a portable heater around the course for the entire round.

Despite the bone-chilling temperatures, 10 players still shot rounds in the 70s. Lake Oswego's Kevin Gay and Elliot Marshall led the way by each shooting an even-par round of 71. Couple that with Matt Montpas' 75 and it was easy to see why Lake Oswego shot a season-best team score of 297. In the process, the Lakers claimed their fourth league victory in four tries.

'There were a lot of low scores today,' Lake Oswego coach Chris Sheik noted. 'Every week the league gets better and the kids improve. That's a given.'

But it's been difficult for anybody to keep up with the Lakers who have shown that they're clearly the class of the league.

Individually, Gay maintained his lead in the race for the league's individual scoring title. Maybe it helps that he has teammates can keep pace with him almost stroke for stroke.

With Marshall tying for medalist honors, 'now we've got three guys who have all shot even par or better,' Sheik said.

That group includes Kevin Day, who had the league's best round in the first tournament of the season. 'And Matt (Montpas) is really close,' Sheik said.

On Monday, Day wound up shooting an 80 but it easily could have been three or four strokes better if not for some missed putts.

Cross-town rival Lakeridge rival had the most players in the 70s - four to be exact. That included a pair of 77s by Troy Douglass and Ben Saulson and a pair of 78s by Kevin Craig and Matt Kitto. That gave Lakeridge its season-best score of 310, which was good enough for a fourth consecutive second-place finish.

'I've been telling them that one of these days we're going to all come together and have a great day,' Lakeridge coach Jason Wold said. 'Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough to win it, as has been the result most of the season.

'(But) I just want to make sure that my team improves and I think we're doing that,' Wold added.

In some of the other leagues around the state, Lakeridge's score on Monday would have been worthy of a first-place finish.

'I've been telling my kids that when you get to state, they don't ask you what place you (finished) in the league. They just let you tie it up with everybody else,' Wold said.

Lakeridge's day represented the first time this season that a TRL team had four relatively low scores bunched so close together. They way they played this week, it's difficult to determine what order they should tie it up next week.

It did take a little bit of scrambling, though, to make it all happen. But nobody scrambled like Douglass did on No. 16, where his tee shot hit a cart path and bounced behind a maintenance shed. Douglass had to drop behind that building and another one and hit his next shot over both buildings to put the ball back in play. He wound up making bogey on the hole but the damage could have been much worse.

Everyone in the league seems to be playing so well now that there could be some really low scores posted by the time the district tournament rolls around.

'Once you take off the rain gear and all the extra layers (of clothing), and free up your swing, you feel like you can go a lot lower,' Wold said. 'And all of the greens we've played so far have been plugged and sanded. So we're waiting to get some nice, smooth greens where we can make a bunch of putts.'

Also on Monday, the Three Rivers League girls mid-district tournament was played at Stone Creek in Oregon City. And, just as they've done all year, the Lake Oswego girls came out on top. They registered a 369 team score while Lakeridge finished second at 381.

That tournament was worth double points, which put Lake Oswego atop the league standings with 35 points. Lakeridge, which has finished second each week this season, is next with 28 points. The Lakers' lead is now large enough that it would be hard to imagine them not winning the league title.

'Even if Lakeridge won the rest of the league matches and we finished second each week, I don't think they could overtake us,' Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff said.

Claiming individual honors for the fourth time this season was Lake Oswego sophomore Amy Beth Simanton. She shot a 2-over-par 74, which was 10 strokes better than the second-place finisher, Lakeridge's Taylor Babcock.

'She was really hitting the ball well,' Shoff said of Simanton. 'She makes the game look really easy.

Simanton also shot a 75 last Thursday to win the Canby Invitational at Willamette Country Club. She won that tournament by 15 strokes.

'Golf is an individual sport, but in order to win (as a team) we need all five of our players,' Shoff said.

So, at the mid-district tournament, Simanton got the help she needed from her teammates. That included Nathalie Krauth, who shot an 89 for the day's third-best round. She was followed by teammates Lise Andersen with a 99, Deanna Ulrich with a 107 and Devon O'Leary with a 110.

On the Lakeridge side, Babcock got the biggest helping hand from Melissa Dussin, who shot a 92. Also contributing to the Pacers' cause were Kelly Kirk with a 102, Chloe Rossam with a 103 and Kelly Taucher with a 108.

All things considered, Lakeridge coach Sandy Sutherland was pleased with his team's efforts.

'Things are looking up for Lakeridge,' he said. 'The future looks very good.

Indeed it does since Babcock is a sophomore, Dussin is a junior and Kirk and Rossam are both freshmen. Clearly the leader of the group, though, is Babcock.

'She's just a steady player,' the coach said. 'I can only see lower scores in her future ... She has the game to consistently break 80.'