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Bushey trails by five in state golf

October 20, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

WALDORF, Md. -- A sunny sky, warm temperatures and a butterfly breeze. Just what you want on an autumn day playing golf.

Four Washington County prep golfers will enjoy a second day of play today in the Maryland 2A/1A State Golf Championship under much the same conditions, although each will be looking to improve on their scores from Tuesday's first round.

Potomac Ridge Golf Club, playing to a par 73 and measuring just under 6,300 yards for the boys and 5,000 yards for the girls, would not yield to low scores.

While Middletown's Alex Hoffman, the 2007 individual champion, carded a 1-over 74 for the best round of the day, scores generally ballooned thanks to lightning quick Bermuda greens.

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Smithsburg's Chris Bushey and A.J. Minnich, Williamsport's Zach Weber and North Hagerstown's Aaron Staley qualified for today's final round.

After a miserable bogey, double-bogey start, Bushey rebounded to shoot an even-par 36 on the back nine and finish with a 79, five strokes back and still in the hunt for an individual title. Minnich, with memories of his 100 last year at Potomac Ridge, pulled off a major improvement with an 83, the same as Staley. Weber just made the cut with an 85.

Smithsburg failed to qualify as a team, totaling 377 strokes after Kyle Huntzberry came in with a 102 and Matt Snowden posted a 113.

"I was thinking I might not even make the cut after the first nine," said Bushey. "I just couldn't chip and make any putts."

But a birdie on the par-4, 375-yard 10th hole put him in a better state of mind and his putting came around, using only 14 putts on the back nine.

"I hit more greens on the front side, but my chipping and making 4- and 5-footers on the back was a big difference," said Bushey, making his second state appearance. "Ending with par on the back is a good note. I got back to reality and I'm only five shots off the lead."

Staley, in his state debut as a freshman, did much the same with his playing as Bushey. He had a 44 and turned things around with a 39, which included three 6s.

"I drove the ball well, my irons were good, but I just didn't chip well," said Staley, who also had 31 putts. "I've not putted well lately, so that was good for me on these greens."

Minnich was giddy after his qualifying round, which had an electric start.

After a par to begin on the 6th hole in the shotgun start, Minnich birdied the par-5 7th measuring 495 yards and followed with another birdie on the 150-yard par-3 8th, leading the way to a 38. He wavered on the back nine with a pair of 6s and a pair of 7s, but had enough in the tank.

"If I got in trouble I just tried to stay within myself," said Minnich. "I remembered last year's round hole-by-hole and knew what I wanted to do. I'm just so glad. I'm proud that I came back from last year's total."

"Nothing to lose, just go out and go as low as I can," said Weber after learning he made the cut. "My short game was bad, bad, bad."

North Hagerstown junior Becky Gossard was making a return engagement to the state, but this wasn't one to remember.

Gossard suffered through her worst round of the year, ballooning to a 24-over par-97, well below the girls cutline of 88.

Gossard had a 7 and a pair of 6s on her 51-46 card.

Today's final round will produce a boy and girl individual state champion and a team champion in each of the 4A/3A and 2A/1A classes.

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