MIXED BAG FOR SCAPPOOSE GOLFER
Scappoose High's Chase Elliott fell in the second round of the 2019 Oregon Junior Amateur last week at Oswego Lake Country Club, losing to Sunset High's Naoki Easterday.
Easterday took down Elliott 8 and 6 in the second round of match play in the Junior Boys 16-18 championship flight.
Easterday shot 33 on the front nine compared to Elliott's 40, going 6-up at the turn.
Elliott felt that he played reasonably well. Easterday just had the better day.
"He played extremely well," Elliott said. "I played pretty good even though I lost the match.
"I was pretty much just getting pars while he was getting birdies. I had a mess-up hole on 9 (taking a 7), but really it was all the birdies on the front nine that killed me."
The day before, Elliott defeated Jesuit High's Owen Mackin 4 and 3.
"Anytime you can finish without playing the full 18 is a good round of match play," Elliott said.
Elliott wasn't satisfied with his performance on the front nine, admitting it took awhile for him to get into a groove as he shot 49 against Mackin.
"I had a couple of bad three-putts on the front nine when it was kind of wet and soggy," Elliott said of the slow greens at Oswego Lake. "I was hitting my driver a little shaky. I was missing some fairways, which kind of hurt me."
Things started to pick up for him on the back nine, where he adjusted to the greens and had some solid iron shots.
Oswego Lake isn't an easy course. The layout is hilly with plenty of trees. This also was the first time Elliott had ever played the course, as he usually practices at Columbia Edgewater Country Club or Wildwood in Portland.
Even though the course was tough, Elliott said he was able to navigate it fairly well.
"The courses I play a lot are kind of the same design," Elliott said. "But it's tough having to walk up and down the hills for a while. It helps having the ability to hit off different lies and having the endurance."
Repetition and preparation also helped Elliott curb potential course difficulties. Before playing the course, he talked to one of the golfers at his home course while also looking online and at booklets in the clubhouse to get an idea of the layout.
He tied for eighth out of 55 competitors in the Monday 18-hole qualifying for match play seeds. He said a 4-over 75.
"It helped just knowing where you can miss," Elliott said of forming a course strategy. "A lot of the holes you don't need to hit driver off of the tee, so I was hitting irons, which helped a lot."
Playing a difficult course is easier when playing with a good group, and the group Elliott played with on Tuesday as he faced Mackin made the course bearable.
"They were very laid-back," Elliott said. "It's never fun to play with the guys that are hitting their clubs on the ground and stuff like that."
Elliott played in a group that included Easterday on Tuesday. But even though Elliott enjoyed playing with him, the intensity ramped up on the second day of match play.
"It was more serious because it was getting further in the tournament," Elliott said, adding that "it was still a good group to played with."
Elliott said he focuses on three areas during every round: hitting off the tee, wedge play and putting. Overall, Elliott said he felt he did okay in those areas during the tournament, which was won by Nicholas Watts from Marist High.
"It was pretty decent," Elliott said. "The greens were really fast so that took awhile to get used to. My chipping kind of struggled, but it was nice being able to hit irons off the tee and not really having to worry about missing fairways. I struggled a little bit, but then I got the hang of it after awhile."
Over the summer, Elliott is working with golf instructor Jerry Mowlds. Mowlds is a PGA Hall of Fame member and University of Portland alumnus who is one of the most renowned teachers in Oregon.
"Right now, I'm trying to draw the ball more," Elliott said. "I'm trying to keep my arms together, make sure that my setup is the same every time, my alignment's good ... just (thinking) club path on the downswing through the ball."
He'll also be playing plenty of golf this summer. While he'll have some opportunities to relax with planned trips to Alaska and California, Elliott will also partake in another five to six tournaments. The next big tournament for him was this week's Oregon Stroke Play Championship in Woodburn, another course he'd never played before.
"It's kind of tough, but it's cool to play new courses," Elliott said. "It gets kind of bland playing the same courses, so I like seeing new courses."
The senior from Scappoose had a solid spring season. Elliott placed seventh in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 5A tournament, finishing a 9-over 151 for two rounds at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis.
"I played okay," Elliott said of his performance at state. "Not as well as I had been. I was shooting right around par, like 1-over, 2-over throughout the year. It was a manageable course. I just wasn't hitting the ball that well.
The soon-to-be Indian senior said he and other members of the Scappoose team have been practicing plenty this summer. Elliott said he tries to practice at least once a week with his teammates.
Even though Elliott qualified for state individually, the young Scappoose squad failed to make it as a team. Elliott hopes to remedy that next year while also bringing home some hardware of his own.
"I definitely want to try to win state individually," Elliott said. "I think it's pretty realistic. And then as a team, our players are getting better. I think we should be able to make state."