By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
In frigid morning mountain temperatures, the Portales Rams heated up to win their second straight Leroy Gooch golf tournament in Ruidoso this week, as Ram sophomores Donavin Sanchez and William Archibeque won the top two small school’s individual medals.
District 4-3A foe Lovington started slow but finished strong to compete with the Rams for the championship. The Wildcats shot a combined 333 on the first day at Alto Country Club, but charged back with a second-day score of 312 at The Links at Sierra Blanca to force a one-hole playoff. But after Lovington won the hole, and apparently the title, a scoring error was found during regulation, which made the playoff hole unnecessary and gave the Rams the championship.
“We’re thinking (Lovington) won it by a shot,” Crowley said. “Back to the scoring area, they added our score wrong. They gave us a 323 for the second day instead of a 322. So we won it outright.”
Sanchez led the Rams with a five-over par 74 on the first day, followed by an even-par 72 on day two. Archibeque fired a nine-over par 78 on day one, and a two-over par 74 in the last round.
“Donavin is playing a solid No. 1 spot,” Crowley said. “To have the rounds he’s had around par and even under is absolutely a godsend for a golf coach and a golf team. He’s coming into his own, and whatever he’s done, I wish I could bottle it and give it to the guys.”
Portales senior Garrett Hatch also played a key role in the Rams victory, shooting an 87 at The Links— good enough to figure into the Rams scorebook.
“I set a goal for myself that I would shoot a score that we could take,” Hatch said. “And I played good enough that we finally were able to take one of my scores, so I was really happy.”
“We took (Garrett’s) score into the count,” Crowley said. “And that is absolutely a wonderful thing.”
Crowley noted some of his Rams struggled on the greens and in their short game, but others picked up the slack.
“This team pulls so much for each other that (sometimes) it’s a day of frustration for some and a day of exhilaration for others,” Crowley said.
Golfers also had to wait through a 1 1/2-hour frost delay Tuesday morning as the course thawed out.
On the girls side, Portales senior Lindsey Woodward shot a combined 214 — good enough for 10th place in the small schools category, while teammate Tori Teague fired a 217.
Portales plays in the Hobbs Invitational at Ocotillo Park Tuesday, before traveling to Roswell’s NMMI golf course for the District 4-3A tournament April 30.