TULSA — Tulsa Kelley coach Shawn Lawhorn came up to his top golfer between the 17th and 18th holes with instructions.
“He told me I just needed a double (bogey) on 18 to win so that's what I went for,” Comets senior Chris Karlovich said. “I attacked the hole differently.”
It paid off — if barely.
Karlovich played conservatively and squeaked by with a double bogey to win the individual title at the Class 5A state tournament at Tulsa Country Club with a 219. Tulsa Edison's Alexander Hughes finished one strike behind.
“That might be the first time in four years that he's actually listened to me,” Lawhorn said afterward. “He hit a good shot and just played it in from there.”
Things weren't nearly as close in the team competition, as Tulsa Kelley finished 40 strokes in front of second-place Shawnee.
The win came on Kelley's home course.
“We struggled as a team for a lot of the year,” Karlovich said. “We started coming together here in the last few weeks. Our whole goal entering the year was to repeat as state champions.”
Now, Karlovich has the individual title to go along with it.
Karlovich was also happy that Hughes, his longtime friend, finished in second.
The pair have known each other since they were about 10 and play regularly.
Karlovich and Hughes finished in the top two spots at the regional tournament as well.
It might not have gone the same way had he been in this kind of position a year ago.
He struggled through much of the front nine after carrying a four-stroke lead into the final round.
“I battled through adversity this year,” Karlovich said. “Last year, I wouldn't have quit, but maybe I wouldn't have gone after it the same way I did this year.”
Karlovich was 4-over through four when he started turning things around.
He really grabbed control on the back nine with birdies on 11, 13 and 16.
On No. 13, Karlovich stuck a sand wedge about a foot from the cup and tapped in for birdie.
“After that, I knew that if I just didn't let things get away from me, I had it,” Karlovich said.