Golf: Nick Lasko sinks hole in one, shoots 1-over-par 73 to win by six
Clackamas' Nick Lasko has been tearing up the Mt. Hood Conference boys' golf circuit this spring.
The Cavaliers' junior was near the top of his game Thursday at Rose City Golf Course, firing a round of 1-over-par 73 under cold, rainy and windy conditions to claim medalist honors by six strokes over teammate Ethan Akers and Central Catholic's Jake Mollet.
The round will go down as one of the most memorable in Lasko's young career after he birdied each of the first three holes and then made a hole in one -- his first -- at the 194-yard 12th hole with a 4-iron.
It also marked the fourth time Lasko in four league matches has been the medalist, and his six-shot cushion matched his largest margin of victory this season.
"That round was definitely above average because of No. 12 and the way I started," Lasko said. "But there were points in my round where I could have really gotten off track and I didn't. I stayed mentally strong and ended up finishing pretty well.
"Of course, this round will be remembered for awhile because of that hole, but hopefully there's more success to come."
Clackamas' Tyler Whittaker finished at 9-over 81 and Jacob Allen added an 89 as the Cavaliers edged Central Catholic 322-330 for top team honors, but of all the golfers in Thursday's 29-player field, Lasko had the best story to tell.
Playing in a threesome with David Douglas' Andrew Barker and Centennial's Sam Schul, Lasko got off to a blistering start under cold, wet, and windy conditions, making a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole, a 35-foot birdie put at No. 2, and a 3-foot birdie putt at No. 3.
He then gave back strokes with bogeys at No. 4, No. 6, and No. 8, and finished the front side at even-par 35.
Lasko then made two pars to open the back nine and remain even as he stepped to the tee at No. 12.
A week earlier on the same course, the 12th hole played 184 yards with a front-left pin and Lasko hit a 5-iron. On Thursday, it played 194 with a back-right pin and Lasko went with a 4-iron.
"I just tried to keep the same mindset as any other swing," he said. "When it came off the face, it was solid. I tried to cut it off the left side of the green, which I did, and all of a sudden it just happened to land right n front of the hole and bounce in."
Lasko didn't actually see the ball go into the hole.
"I saw the ball bounce once and then I didn't see it after that," he said. "Andrew Barker was jumping around and high-fiving me, but I couldn't see it.
"We walked up a little bit and one of the parents watching walked up to the green and looked into the hole and said it was in there and we all went crazy."
Although the rain had tapered off before Lasko hit his shot at No. 12, the second-longest par-3 on the course behind the 216-yard eighth hole, he said he needed a full 4-iron to reach the pin.
"I feel that was what made it pretty special was that I had to really muscle a 4-iron to get it there," Lasko said. "And in those conditions where it's wet and soggy, the ball isn't going to fly as far when it's cold and damp.
"I wasn't expecting what happened. I was just hoping that it would be somewhere close to the flag so I could make a birdie. I never really think about making a hole in one. It's a lucky thing that happens maybe once in a lifetime, sometimes."
Lasko played the final six holes 3-over, making a double-bogey at No. 14 and a bogey at No. 17.
"My ball striking wasn't ideal," Lasko said. "I wasn't really on fire or playing badly, but No. 12 certainly got me on track again, which was really, really nice. It was a good confidence booster."
Lasko, a member at Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby, has been working recently with both Brian Henninger, the former PGA touring pro who lives in Wilsonville, and PGA professional Scott Rath, which he said is starting to pay dividends on the course.
"I tend to set my expectations fairly high," he said. "But I've put in a lot of work with Brian and Scott and I'm at a point where I believe I can shoot a low number any time."
Lasko opened the league season shooting 3-over 75 at Willamette Valley, followed by a 1-over 74 at Glendoveer-West, an even-par 72 at Rose City, and then Thursday's 73 at Rose City.
"Nick is playing great," Clackamas coach Mike Freeborn said. "He has a really consistent game. He hits the ball much further than he ever has, which I think opens up a lot for him.
"When he was a freshman, he wasn't very long, but would just grind out everything. That was kind of his role. We told him, 'You're the grinder and you just have to try to get everything you can out of every hole.' And now that he's a much more-seasoned golfer and has every shot in the bag, he still has that 'grinder' mentality, which helps him get through tough rounds like we played today."
If there is a downside to Lasko's impressive run, it's that teammate Sam Pyon hasn't been with the Cavaliers to enjoy it.
Pyon, a home-schooler who won last season's OSAA Class 6A state title as a sophomore, was declared ineligible after he missed the deadline to complete coursework that was necessary to remain active. It's also too late for him to regain his eligibility this spring, leaving a significant hole near the top of the Cavaliers' lineup.
"Of course, we miss Sam," Lasko said. "We always say at the start of the season that we're going to face some adversity. This year, it was losing Sam.
"So far, we've just stuck to our game plan and trusted each other to where it's not affecting us adversely. We're just going on with our business and shooting the best scores we can."