STILLWATER — Last year, Max McGreevy had to kill time on the putting green while waiting to see if he had done enough to capture medalist honors at the Class 6A boys golf state tournament.
This year, the Edmond Santa Fe senior had to fight to defend his title.
After Tuesday's final round resulted in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard, McGreevy defeated Edmond North's Nick Heinen with a birdie on the second playoff hole to repeat as state champion on a dramatic afternoon at Karsten Creek.
“I can tell how much I've improved (as a senior) by the scores I've put down this year,” McGreevy said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, even though I probably didn't need to. I'm proud of myself that I could get through it.
“… (Heinen) told me to make (the winning putt) right when I started to set my ball down. I just tried to not go as fast as I could, so I could kind of relax and enjoy the moment. Everybody cheering at the end, it's just a great feeling when it finally goes in.”
McGreevy, Heinen and Norman North's Thomas Johnson all finished with a 2-under 214. Johnson was eliminated after he failed to birdie on the first playoff hole before McGreevy and Heinen lined up to play the par-5 18 again.
After both players chipped onto the green on their third shot, Heinen missed his putt before McGreevy sank his to clinch the victory.
“They're both longer than me off the tee,” McGreevy said of Heinen and Johnson. “I knew they could both reach the hole. I was just trying to stay in my zone and not let their shots affect me and just kind of play how I want to play and let the outcome come.”
Getting to that playoff featured some drama, too.
Johnson, whose performance Tuesday capped a breakout sophomore season, rallied from a poor start to shoot 5-under on his final 10 holes. McGreevy, meanwhile, knew he was one shot back of Heinen when he teed off on 17 and figured he would need to make a birdie on one of the final holes.
“I just kept giving myself chances,” McGreevy said, “and knew that if (Heinen) didn't make a mistake, that I could give myself a chance to catch up to him. It just so happened he made a bogey on 17 and gave me a chance.”
There was little suspense surrounding the team competition, however, as Edmond North won its ninth consecutive championship with a final score of 884, which was 27 strokes ahead of second-place Jenks.
Edmond North made its big surge in Monday's second round, improving its overall score by 27 to take a comfortable 13-stroke lead. The Huskies then got off to a strong start Tuesday, which essentially sealed another win.
“I just think what yesterday did was kind of shock a few teams,” coach Jeff Doherty said. “Just kind of visiting with a couple coaches, they were thinking (after the first round), ‘Hey, if I shoot a good number here, at least we're going to be in the hunt tomorrow.'
“And then they come in and they see (the second-round score) and they're like ‘Oh my Gosh, they did it again.' That ‘did it again' stuff happens so much — in golf especially, a mental game. It just gets into your head, and sometimes I think we get into people's heads.”
Edmond North had four players — Heinen, Hayden Wood, Eli Armstrong and Tyson Reeder — finish in the top 10. The only question as play wound down Tuesday is if Heinen could overtake McGreevy for medalist honors.
Following McGreevy's meeting with the media, Santa Fe coach Mike Stolz politely interjected to rave about his departing senior.
Stolz highlighted McGreevy's desire to constantly play with former two-time state champion Taylor Moore last year and how he used those opportunities to watch and learn rather than just try to win. The coach pointed to the way McGreevy always helped his younger teammates with their swings and how others always wanted to play with him. And Stolz was proud of the way McGreevy genuinely cared more about the team championship than an individual title.
“It's going to be hard for me to let him go,” Stolz said. “We've tried to figure out a way to medically redshirt him or something all year. He's that kind of leader.
“He's just one in a million. You don't get one like that very often. It's really good for me to see him win two (titles), to verify he's the best player in the state. He's the best kid in the state.”