The Pierre Governors’ 2012 golf season reached its 18th hole Tuesday as the Governors wrapped up their Class AA state tournament run.
The Governors concluded day two of the tournament at Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell with a score of 343. Pierre’s second day score, along with their day one score of 340, earned it a 12th-place finish at the tournament.
The Class AA champions were Sioux Falls Lincoln, who finished with a final score of 596.
The 12th-place finish capped off a difficult couple of years for the Governors. Left without a home course to practice on, Pierre had the burden of a tremendous disadvantage throughout the entire year.
“Not having a golf course really hurt us a lot. It might have set our program back a couple of years. We’ll be better next year. I think people realize we would have been better with a course to play on. We didn’t have one and we had to make due with what we had,” Pierre coach John Knox said.
The return of Hillsview Golf Course is one reason for optimism for the Governors’ golf program. The other is eighth-grader Andrew Van Gerpen.
Van Gerpen completed his tournament with a score of 85 to finish with a total score of 167, placing him 43rd in the two-day tournament. Van Gerpen may only get better with added confidence from a successful state tournament outing.
“I think this will give Andrew confidence and he’ll realize he can play with some of the better players in the state. He was disappointed because he struggled on the par threes, other than that he did well. We just need to change a couple of things in Andrew’s swing to make it more consistent, we’ll work on it,” Knox said. “We’re proud of Andrew though and I knew he had it in him. He’s just a kid who is a natural golfer. We just have to change a couple of things and he’ll get better.”
Van Gerpen’s ascent up the leader boards may also be beneficial for the Pierre golf program as a whole. The Governors feature a slew of talented golfers ready to step into the spotlight next season.
“We’ll have some seventh-graders and middle-school kids coming up who think they can play with Andrew. Him doing well should give them some confidence as well and motivate them to practice more and get better,” Knox said.
The Governors have a group of potential waiting in the wings but they also lost a few talented golfers Tuesday.
Senior Willie Welch’s storied career on the links came to a close as the two-time all-state golfer finished 46th with a day-two score of 168. The ending wasn’t what Welch was looking for with his day derailed by a couple of risks.
“Willie told me he was going to shoot a 72 or an 85 because he took a few chances. He just got off to a bad start and it was just one of those days where he just didn’t have it. That’s too bad because he’s a senior and we wanted him to go out in style, but that just happens,” Knox said.
Welch wasn’t the only departing senior to finish his career. Drew Leif shot a 81 to finish in 69th place and Kieran Gray shot an 88 to finish 76th.
“Drew really just had two bad holes. After that he settled down and played great the rest of the day. Kieran took a triple on one of the last holes as well; taking that out would have put him down around 84. That’s golf though,” Knox said.
Junior Cash Anderson was Pierre’s third golfer on the day as he shot an 86 to claim a 60th-place finish for the Governors. Matt Booth finished with a 104 to claim 85th for Pierre.