DUNCAN — Pauls Valley golf coach Dean Hill reminded his team of one of his sayings: “Its not how you start, it's how you finish.”
On Monday at the Class 3A state championships at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club, Pauls Valley started with an opening-round 301. They finished with a second-round 314, placing them 21-strokes back of the Day 1 leader Plainview.
“We were focused,” Hill said. “We played well. We came to this with the idea that we were going to finish.”
What he means by finishing is ending in the top three — and preferably as the one with the championship trophy. The golfers who have been with him since they were freshman experienced 10th place and fourth, but they're ready this year to finish among the last group.
Hill doesn't look at the second-round score as “bad.”
“Plainview played well,” he said. “We just woke up the sleeping giant, to be honest. They're the team to beat. They're strong from one through five. But I'm proud of my guys.”
Hill is especially proud of his No. 1 golfer, Matt Henry, a junior who finished third among individuals and posted a 2-over 73 and 3-over 74 for his first two rounds.
“Well, I putted well. I hit my driver pretty well,” Henry said. “I just got to go out there and putt a little bit better.”
As for his team, there's room for improvement on Day 2, which will be just 18 holes of golf instead of Day 1's 36 holes.
“Everybody has to go out there and play a little bit better to beat Plainview,” Henry said. “We've got a chance. We beat them in that first round.”
Plainview destroyed the second round, posting the lowest-round score of the day (290). That score is 15 strokes better than any other team in the second round.
“We just got our composure,” Plainview coach Andy Bloodworth said. “We started off really shaky the first four or fives holes. I was just hoping to get a 315 on the board, honestly, and we came in at 304.”
Four of Plainview's five golfers placed among the top 10 individual scores, including Trae Wilkins, who thought he posted the lowest score with a 145 until Oklahoma Christian's Zac Schaefer posted a second-round 67 that gave him a total score of 143.
“I just couldn't drive any birdies,” Wilkins said of his second round. “Lots of lip outs.”
Henry, though, did finish just two shots behind Wilkins. He takes that as something. He knows his team is comfortable coming from behind.
For Day 2, Henry said he'll tell his Pauls Valley teammates to play their best.
Hill has a saying for that too: “It is what it is and it was what it was.”
“We got here,” he said. “And we're going to save the best for last.”