CARMEL — Oliver Mast stood at the edge of the eighth green, staring at his golf ball.
His face concealed the disappointment, but his body language divulged the truth: “Unbelievable,” it said. “I can’t believe that just happened again.”
Just seconds earlier, Mt. Vernon’s ace had uncorked a chip shot that looked destined for the bottom of the cup.
But, on a hot and rainy day filled with near misses and mounting frustration, this hole proved no different for Mast. His ball nicked the rim of the cup before coming to a halt inches away from it. He was forced to settle for par.
“Story of my two days, here,” Mast said after he wrapped up his state finals appearance Wednesday at Carmel’s Prairie View Golf Club. “Putts that could have gone in.”
When Mast’s par putt dropped into the cup on the ninth and final hole — he started on the back nine — it was sweet relief. He now was about 50 yards and a few minutes away from getting into a car, driving away and putting the long day out of his head, at least for a little while.
Mast had qualified for the state finals by firing a regional tournament-best 73 at The Players Club in Muncie. On Wednesday, the Marauders sophomore carded an 81, finishing with a two-day, 36-hole total of 159. He came in 54th, tied with six other competitors.
Mast began the day in 41st after shooting 6-over par in his first round Tuesday. Through his first six holes Wednesday, he was only a combined eight over after bogeying 11 and 15.
Mast later said he was satisfied with the start. The back nine is the tougher section of the course, and he was hoping to make it through close to even.
But that plan and his day came unraveled on 17, where he triple-bogeyed after losing his ball off the tee and having to take a penalty stroke.
The three-over par on 17 put him at plus five for the day and plus eight for the event.
“There were a few decommitted swings in there,” Mast said of his 41 on the back nine. “I shot with no confidence, and that’s what happens when you shoot with no confidence.”
Mast parred 18 before picking up his first and only birdie of the day on the first hole of the front nine. He finished with a 40 on the final nine holes.
The Marauder said he does not expect the sting of his disappointment to fade any time soon, but he knows that with time, there will be ample reason to look back at his first state finals trip and be proud. His coach, however, doesn’t need any time to peruse for positives.
“He really did putt well today,” said Mt. Vernon golf coach Caleb Zelencik. “He just couldn’t get that birdie putt to drop. Compared to (Tuesday), his putting stroke was so much smoother, and he was much more confident. He just couldn’t … catch a break.”
Zelencik also pointed to a number of other factors that Mast can look to for consolation. First, he said, Mast didn’t let his frustration overwhelm him. He responded from the triple-bogey with a par, and he finished the day with three straight pars.
Second, he said, Mast is only a sophomore, and that means he has two more chances to trump his performance this season.
“I know his expectations were high, but this was a great learning experience for him,” Zelencik said. “Sometimes, you learn more from the tough breaks than you do from the good ones.”
Mast also might take some solace in the final scoreboard, where he will see that of the 53 competitors who finished ahead of him, more than 35 percent were seniors and will not be back next season.
Mast won’t need too much encouragement, though. As far as he is concerned, he now has unfinished business at Prairie View. And next season, he plans on attending to it.
“I’m going to work really hard this summer and this winter, and we are going to get back here,” said Mast, who said he believes that not only he but his Marauders, too, will be competing at state next season.
“We’re going to put out a 10-times better effort than we did this year. And for me, getting the experience this year was good, but next year I’ll be coming back with a totally different mindset. I’ll be coming here to win.”
Harrison’s (West Lafayette) Cole Bradley upended Columbia City’s Spencer Klimek in the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the state championship.
Bradley surged to the front after trailing by three shots at the end of Day 1. He and Klimek each carried a 143 into the playoff before Bradley emerged as champion.
Following Klimek was a six-way tie for third place that included Center Grove’s Austin Crowder, Fort Wayne Dwenger’s Callahan Elzey, Lebanon’s Zach Schroeder, Westfield’s Thomas Lewis and Timmy Hildebrand and Muncie Central’s Keegan Bronnenberg. All six carded 144s.
In the team competition, Westfield shot a tournament-best round of 289 to uphold its Day 1 lead and take home the crown for the second time in three years. They fired a two-day score of 584, besting runner-up Center Grove (588).
Oliver Mast’s hole-by-hole results (Day 2)
at Prairie View Golf Club
To Par; E;+1;+1;+1;+1;+2;+2;+5;+5;+5
To Par; +4;+6;+6;+8;+9;+9;+9;+9;+9;+9;+9
Final IHSAA Golf State Team Standings:
Rank;Team;Day 1;Day 2;Final
T4.;Fort Wayne Dwenger;302;303;605
11.;Harrison (West Lafayette);322;307;629
Rank;Player;School;Day 1;Day 2;Final
1.;Cole Bradley;Harrison (West Lafayette);71;72;143#
2.;Spencer Klimek;Columbia City;68;75;143
T3.;Austin Crowder;Center Grove;70;74;144
T3.;Callahan Elzey;FW Dwenger;72;72;144
T3.;Keegan Bronnenberg;Muncie Central;70;74;144
T9.;Noah Gillard;Center Grove;74;71;145
T9.;Drew Wood; Zionsville;70;75;145
#Won in second hole of two-man sudden-death playoff