King’s Walk played as a beautiful backdrop for Eastern Dakota Conference boys golf on Wednesday at the Red River Roughrider Invitational.
Despite Fargo Davies finishing first on the leaderboard, Grand Forks Central saw the resiliency of seniors Joey Kennelly and Carson Seng boost the Knights to a second-place finish. Knights coach Josh Cichy, who followed Kennelly closely as he finished up his individual round, was pleased to see two senior leaders fight through tough starts to their rounds.
“With this group, we’ve started a little slow sometimes,” Cichy said after the scorecards were turned in. “But these guys from my experience coaching them, they battle and they grind each and every hole.”
Seng, who was plus-3 after his first three holes, strung together four consecutive pars followed by back-to-back birdies to help him finish with a 75 on the day.
“That just tells me that he battled the whole way around,” said Cichy. “Joey finished birdie-eagle-par and he had to make like a 15-foot putt on 15 for par. That was a fun finish to watch.”
Kennelly’s fantastic finish
Kennelly, ironically in sync with Seng, started his morning the same way. A bogey on his first hole and a double-bogey on his third put him plus-3 through three. A birdie on his sixth hole had him back on his feet and heading in the right direction.
Then after making the turn at six, Kennelly hit a snag after taking a bogey on the ninth hole and again on the 12th hole due to tough pin placements. Sitting at five shots above par with three holes left, he was able to kick his game to another gear to solidify a second-place finish for Central.
“On the 13th, a par three, he hit a great seven iron to about 12 feet (from the hole). From my point of view (the putt) looked like it was going to break a little bit right, he thought it was dead straight, but he pulled it a little bit and it dropped right in. That was fun to see. I knew he had it right when he hit it,” Cichy said.
From there, Kennelly was able to get into a routine, quite literally. Cichy and Kennelly played King’s Walk together during the practice round the day before and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
“We were playing here on a practice round yesterday and he eagled 14 yesterday when I was playing with him.," said Cichy. "He said ‘Coach, I think I’ll get an eagle again today,’ ” Cichy recalled.
It was the seven iron again for Kennelly that came in the clutch. He went to the club for his approach shot on 14 and stuck it just under eight feet away from the pin. He drained the eagle putt.
The Kennelly show wasn’t over just yet for Cichy. On 15, his final hole, Kennelly knocked down a long 15-foot putt for par and put the seal on a 74 total for the round.
“You have to know how to play the wind,” Kennelly said following his round. “You need to be creative and hit the lower shots. Your drives need to be straight because they’ll get lost on those open holes.”
Red River plays host
Finishing tied for third was Grand Forks Red River with a team total of 313. Being the host of the tournament, the whole team could play but only six scores count for the team total.
“We’re pretty deep right now, but we need our low scores to be lower,” Red River head coach Nate Olson said. “To win a meet you have to do something like Davies did today where they get a 72 and two 73s. Then from there, they jump up.”
Davies senior Sam Suppes supplied the on-par 72 in the victory and juniors Jayce Johnson and Gabe Benson each contributed 73s.
Olson is very familiar with King’s Walk, having worked at the course previously, and understood where the trouble came into play for his team and the field. Hazards along holes coming into the clubhouse test any golfer, as well as unique details.
“They had really tough pins today. Anytime there was a hole you could normally take advantage of the pin placement put you in a tough spot,” Olson said. “You have to have enough discipline to play for the middle of the green and two-putt for par.
The Roughriders posted five players with a 77, but only three counted toward their final standing. Sophomore Carson Skarperud collected birdies on the course's last two par threes for a 77.
West Fargo Sheyenne tied with Red River in third place while West Fargo rounded out the top five.
GF Red River Invitational
Wednesday, at King’s Walk
Fargo Davies 295; GF Central 304; West Fargo Sheyenne 313; GF Red River 313; West Fargo 334; Fargo North 340; Wahpeton 344; Fargo South 352; Fargo Shanley 372; Valley City 405
Top 5 individuals
1. Sam Suppes, Fargo Davies, 72; 2. (tie) Gabe Benson, Davies 73; Jayce Johnson, Davies, 73; 4. Joey Kennelly, GF Central 74; 5. Carson Seng, GF Central, 75
Other GF Central scorers:
Brady McGarry 77, Braden Panzer 78
GF Red River scorers:
Saylor Kuenzel 77, Carson Skarperud 77, Jack Miller 79, Zach Hinschberger 80