As a freshman in 2010, Ryan Wallen had never won a tournament in high school play.
Three weeks into the 2011 season, he has won twice, nearly missing the hat trick with a second place finish in the first match of the season.
Wallen once again shook off a shaky front nine, shooting an even par 35 the rest of the way to finish with a 2 over 74, and a two-stroke victory at the prestigious Birger Solberg Golf Tournament Thursday, March 31, at Bellingham Golf and Country Club.
Wallen, who finished second in the state in 2A as a freshman, is averaging 74.3 a round early this season. The sophomore sensation’s two wins are starting to garner more of the media’s focus.
“With all the media attention, he is feeling some pressure,” Blaine boy’s golf head coach Steve Barthlow said, “but he puts that pressure on himself, also. I believe he is doing a good job of handling the pressure.”
Blaine golfers Devan Boucher and Michael Andes checked in with strong finishes as well, with scores of 83 and 84 respectively.
“Devan got off to a rocky start,” Barthlow said, “but he finished with a 38 on the back. As a freshman, Devan’s game is impressive. He has a very good understanding of his swing and informed me that he was able to make a little adjustment in the last few holes on the front to get back to playing his game.”
Andes was participating in his third Birger Solberg tournament.
“While he (Andes) wasn’t happy with his round or the way he played,” Barthlow said, “I thought he did a nice job of competing and coming in with the score he did.”
As the 2011 season unfolds for Borderite golfers, many see Wallen as the golfer with a target on his back. “I’m not sure I would call it a ‘target’,” Barthlow said, “as there are a few golfers in our conference that will make things very competitive for Ryan.”
The Borderites return to conference play at Lake Padden Golf Course Thursday, April 14.
Photo by Jerry Wallen