Freshman Ryan Wallen may have raised a couple of eyebrows by qualifying for the 2A state golf tournament. However, Wallen made sure that his presence there would be unforgettable, shocking his more seasoned competition by finishing the tournament with a two under par 142 and bringing the second place individual trophy back home to Blaine.
Wallen got into a groove and did it at the most important time. Having moved to the 2A state tournament with a fine second place performance at the 2A district tournament, the Blaine freshman joined teammate Chris Collins and a large contingent of Whatcom County golfers at Apple Tree Golf Resort in Yakima May 25.
Wallen not only advanced to the second day but shocked the tournament by shooting a blistering four under par 68, including an eagle on the par five 18th hole, to be tied for the lead.
He then followed up with a two over par 74. Collins made the cut as well with a fine 76. Collins finished in a tie for 33rd place and allowed Blaine to place seventh overall in team competition. In the first round, Wallen got bogeys on number two and four, before nailing four birdies and the eagle on the 18th hole.
Wallen got as high as five under par in the second round before three bogeys left him two shots off the lead for the tournament. Wallen and state champion Connor O’Neill were the only two golfers to break par.
Blaine boys golf coach Steve Barthlow has seen Wallen play at a high level for a freshman on many occasions this year, playing with the maturity of someone twice his age. His nickname for his freshman phenom is “Iceman.”
“He rarely gets rattled,” said Barthlow, “he plays with great poise.” Wallen’s strengths on the course have been his consistency in finding the fairways off the tee and reaching the greens in regulation. However, his demeanor as playing partner is starting to precede Wallen.
“As a competitor, he is not only furious,” commented Barthlow, “but a very good playing partner. He continually complements his playing partner on nice shots and makes every round a positive one for them.
“More than once, at the state tournament, I had a competitor’s coach come up to me and compliment Ryan on not only his game, but on how supportive and helpful he was to their athlete. I am looking forward with great anticipation and excitement to see how Ryan does during his next three years of high school golf.”
Wallen hopes to continue his hot play this summer with the Washington Junior Golf Association district 1 qualifiers and then the Junior World Tournament at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California July 12-16.
He will also compete at the WJGA state tournament July 26-29, the AJGA in Wenatchee August 9-12 and the PNGA junior championship August 16-20.Coston misses cut at senior PGA championships
Blaine’s Jeff Coston failed to make the cut at the 71st Senior PGA Championship at the Colorado Golf Club in Denver May 25-30.
Coston, coming off a victory at the Washington Open two weeks ago, shot a first round 75 and an 85 on Friday missing the cut by 13 strokes.
Tom Lehman won the event, defeating David Frost and Fred Couples on the first hole of sudden death.Jerry Wallen contributed to this story.