SPOKANE - Jack Whealdon finished second in the 16 and17 age group at the state Washington Junior Golf Association championships at Spokane Country Club Friday with an overall score of 214 for 54 holes. His second place finish is the highest ever by an Ilwaco High School competitor and follows back-to-back second place finishes in the WIAA state tournament 1A classification the past two school seasons.
By placing extremely high at WJGA regional, district and state competition he earned one of four positions on Team Washington among golfers from all sizes of schools. He will compete in mid-August in Portland at the Hogan Cup Tournament and will represent Washington against nine other states and a dozen teams from the Western United States and British Columbia. "I'm really happy to have finished second on a tricky course and I'm honored to earn a place on Team Washington," he said.
Patrick Whealdon placed 11th in the 14 and15 division at state, while Ryan Kukula in the same division and Ross Kukula in the 12 and 13 age bracket also competed the first two days of the tournament, but narrowly missed the cut for the final day. A total of about 80 golfers qualified for the WJGA state tournament in both the 16 and 17 and 14 and 15 divisions and about 40 golfers competed in the 12 and 13 and 10 and 11 age groups.
Jack Whealdon said, "I chipped very well all three days and I putted well. I could have hit my drives and long irons better during the tournament, though. We played at Manito earlier in the tournament and it is a flat course, but today Spokane Country Club had lots of dog legs and it is far from flat."
The first seven holes Whealdon struggled and was four over par, but he birdied holes No. 8, 10, 12, and 16. "On hole number 13 my drive went off to the right on the par three. I had a chip shot that had to clear a bunker to even make the green, but I managed to chunk it in from way out to also get a par on that hole," Whealdon explained.
He was third after the first two days with identical scores of 71 and 71, trailing the leader by three strokes, the exact same position Whealdon was in during last year's state WJGA tourney. "Last year I didn't play as well the final day and dropped back to fifth or sixth and I finished sixth two years ago, so coming in second feels pretty good this year."
Patrick Whealdon was second after the first day of the tournament with a 73 and then shot rounds of 78 and 81 to finish with a 232 score, 12 strokes off the pace in the 14 and 15 age bracket and in an 11th place tie. Ryan Kukula began with an 88 and improved his second-day score to 78, but missed the cut by nine strokes with his 166 score. Ross Kukula fired scores of 80 and 79, but missed the cut to play the third day of the tournament by a mere four strokes.
The Whealdons and Ryan Kukula helped Ilwaco win the class 1A WIAA state title last season and their experience this summer will stand them in good stead to defend the championship come next fall and spring when they again will anchor Coach Dan Whealdon's Fishermen squad.