A 1-over-par round of 73 would suggest the final round of high school golf for Austin Stadeli was fairly mundane and steady. Maybe even a little bit boring.
But trying to hang on to his first-round lead of the Division II state championship tournament was anything but boring.
The Notre Dame senior spent the front nine scrambling just trying to make pars on Saturday at Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix. He got up and down from 95 yards out on the seventh hole. Made a 30-foot par putt on the eighth hole.
“I was all over the place,” Stadeli said. “The front nine was a little bit of a struggle.”
Even with those heroics he was down by as many as four shots during Saturday’s final round. But Stadeli steadied. He birdied the 15th and 16th holes and then had to wait to see if he was the winner.
When Apache Junction’s Gage Grimes missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, it meant Stadeli was the state champion. Stadeli’s 36-hole total of 2-under-par 142 was one shot better than Grimes and two shots better Tucson Canyon del Oro’s Chris Meyers.
For the first half of the day it was Grimes’ tournament to win. He opened the tournament with a 71 on Friday and then went out and made five birdies on the front nine Saturday morning. But then came the afternoon where Grimes found bogeys and lots of them. Five back-nine bogeys balanced out the front-nine birdies and he finished Saturday’s round at a disappointing (by his standards) even par.
The competitors got a surprise when they arrived Saturday morning. Notre Dame and Phoenix Thunderbird had left the golf course Friday with matching team scores of 3-over-par 291. But when the Chiefs arrived they found out their score had been changed to 296.
Thunderbird’s No. 4 player, Jake Chanen had signed for a score of 73 when he actually shot 74. He was disqualified from the first round, meaning Thunderbird had to count No. 5 Sam Sandland’s 78.
While disappointed, Chanen moved on from his mistake Saturday and fired a round of even-par 72.
In fact, all the Chiefs rallied on Saturday and it helped them claim their second-straight Div. II team title. They finished five shots ahead of Notre Dame with a 36-hole total of 10-over-par 586. Canyon del Oro, the 2011 champion, was third overall.