Kuechmann finishes mid-pack at state golf

Hood River Valley High’s Dan Kuechmann shot a two-day total of 165 — 21 over par — to finish in a tie for 32nd place at last week’s OSAA 5A state golf championships at Banks’ Quail Valley Golf Course. Crescent Valley sophomore Kevin Geniza won the tournament with a three-over-par total of 147.

Kuechmann, a junior at HRVHS, had a difficult first day, shooting a 15-over par (87), as he adjusted to the difference between Quail Valley’s terrain and that of his home course at Indian Creek.

“The first day Dan was hitting the ball great but struggled with his short game, which is usually his strength,” said coach Mark Gradin, who accompanied Kuechmann on his first trip to state. “He just could not get the speed right on the greens. After the round we worked on the putting green for two hours, which is when I saw he was playing his ball back in his stance, which caused him to cup his left wrist was add loft to his putter, causing the ball to hop off the putter face instead of rolling.”

Kuechmann rebounded the second day with a solid round, improving his score by nine strokes from the day before to finish with a six over on the day.

“After 10 holes he was even par,” Gradin said. “On 11, a short par four, he hit his second shot into a greenside bunker that almost was totally covered with sand — called a “fried egg.” It took him two shots to get out. He hit the next shot on the green and made a 5-foot putt for a six. The sand traps at Quail Valley are totally different from any other we play during the season and it got into his head a little bit.

“On the 16th hole he was in another greenside bunker and hit a poor shot, which cost him a bogey. Then on 18th, after a perfect drive, he hit his next shot over the green, avoiding a bunker that guarded the front of the green, to take a six.”

Kuechmann qualified for state as an individual by finishing fourth the prior week at the Columbia River Conference Championships. Pendleton and Hermiston finished first and second in the conference to send teams to the state tournament to represent the CRC. The highest CRC finisher was Hermiston’s Keegan Crafton, who finished fifth in the district and went on to shoot a 161 to tie for 22nd place at state.

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