There are a lot of things that separate competitive tournament golf from a leisurely weekend round, and chief among those differences are apparent on the very first hole.
In tournament play, there are no mulligans, there are no breakfast balls and there are no “just put me down for a 6” after a few bad swings. One blow up hole over the course of a multi-day tournament can be the beginning of one’s undoing, but Chris Wardrup was not about to let that happen.
Playing in the two-day Desert Empire League boys’ golf championship last week, Wardrup, a sophomore Palm Desert High School in Palm Desert, California, began his tournament by hitting three shots out of bounds off of the first tee en route to an opening hole 10 on the par-4 first at the Gary Player Course at Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.
"It was just a really interesting way to start the round."
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) May 4, 2019
“I started off really bad. I made a 10 on the first hole,” Wardrup told The Palm Springs Desert Sun. “I hit three out of bounds, two right, one left. It was just a really interesting way to start the round.”
Spotting the field six strokes, Wardrup made six birdies and an eagle over the next 17 holes to post a 2-under par 70 in the first day of the event. From there, he came back and shot the low round of the tournament — a 6-under par 66 — to win by six strokes.
The 35-hole total of 14-under par that came after his sextuple bogey start was enough to edge three of his teammates, senior Derrick Liu, sophomore Willis Panzarello and freshman Braden Bernaldo, who tied for second place, posting two-day totals of 2-under par.
Wardrup and six of his teammates will move on to California’s regional tournament this week with hopes of advancing upstate both as a team and individuals .