CORVALLIS — Ashland High junior Matt Hedges shot a lifetime-best 3-under-par 69 to climb four spots on the final day and finish second in the Class 5A boys golf state championships Tuesday at Trysting Tree Golf Club.
Hedges, who shot a 3-over 75 in Monday's opening round, finished the tournament with an even-par two-day total of 144, four strokes behind medalist Conner Kumpula of West Albany and one stroke ahead of third-place finisher Hogan Arey of Corvallis.
West Albany won the team title with a two-day total of 612, seven strokes better than second-place Bend.
Hedges said prior to state that his goal was to finish in the top five. His chances of meeting that goal looked fair at best after he battled high winds through four bogeys and a double-bogey on Monday. But the wind died down in time for Tuesday's second round and Hedges took full advantage, sinking two birdies on the front nine and three in a row on the back to walk off the course in third place.
When the final group finished, Hedges found out that he had moved up one more spot for the highest placing at state by an Ashland golfer since Jason Allred won a state title in 1996 and placed second '98.
"It was an unbelievable day," Hedges said.
Hedges' 69 topped his previous best round by two strokes and came less than two weeks after he overcame a four-stroke deficit on the final day to win the district tournament at Eagle Point Golf Club. This time, Hedges one-upped himself, draining birdie putts on hole Nos. 2-4 — he began his round on the 10th — to put himself into contention after firing an even-par 36 on the front.
Hedges nearly made it four birdies in a row on the par-5 fifth hole, but rimmed out a 4-foot putt and had to settle for par.
Still, the surge renewed Hedges' hopes of a top-three finish.
"I knew that if I just hit the greens I could get close," Hedges said. "Again, like at districts, I tried to be aggressive as much as I could because I knew people were going to be going pretty low compared to (Monday)."
As it turned out, nobody went lower than Hedges on Tuesday, and only Kumpula equaled that 69 on Monday. Kumpula, a senior, shot a 71 on Tuesday to cap his wire-to-wire win. That clutch round included three birdies on the back nine.
"I heard I was one-shot back at one point," Hedges said. "I knew I had a chance. I guess if that was true, (Kumpula) played the last five holes in (3-under). He's an extremely good player and props to him for playing that course 4 under par through two days because it's a pretty hard course."
Hedges said his second-place finish will inspire him to shoot for even better next season.
"Ever since my freshman year my goal was to win state before I graduated," he said, "and this put me in a good position, but I still have a lot of work to do before next year."
TEAM SCORES (Top 5) — West Albany 305-307—612, Bend 310-309—619, Summit 312-309—621, Marist 331-312—643, Pendleton 324-319—643.
Carter Glick pitched four scoreless innings and Tommy Hulick added three solid innings of relief as Ashland capped its regular season with a 6-0 win over Klamath Union on Tuesday at North Mountain Park.
Glick struck out four without a walk to improve to 2-0, and Hulick allowed just two hits the rest of the way for the Grizzlies (15-10). Also for Ashland, Steen Fredrickson was 2-for-3 with a double and Ryan Bottimore drove in two.
Klamath Union 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Ashland 104 100 x — 6 9 1
Depew, Tron (3), Bradford (5) and Whisler; Glick, Hulick (5) and Cammarota, Scott (5). W — Glick (2-0). L — Depew. 2B — KU: Montgomery; A: Flynn, Fredrickson.