Cates nearly makes state cut as Kettle Run’s golf season ends at regionals
Jeremy Cates' outstanding junior year ended at Monday's 3A regional tournament. The Cougar junior shot 78, but lost a playoff for a state berth. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Last season, Chase Rathbone became the first Kettle Run golfer in history to earn a state berth.
He claimed that honor by winning a tiebreaker playoff hole for sixth place at a region tournament.
On Monday, again at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, a Kettle Run golfer forced a playoff for sixth place in a region tournament. This time, however, he didn’t get the payoff.
Jeremy Cates’ impressive day at the Class 3A East Region tournament ended when he lost the second hole of a playoff, which served as a tiebreaker for sixth and the final bid to the 3A state tournament.
“But I’m extremely proud of Jeremy,” Cougars coach Dale Edwards said. “He played really solid. … He had one bad hole the whole day.”
Cates shot a 78 along with Lafayette’s Evan Johnson, who won the two-hole playoff.
Meanwhile, Kettle Run’s Austin Finan shot an 86, Ross Grammick shot a 90 and Mitch Jansce shot a 91 to help the Cougars finish fifth as a team with a 345. William Monroe won the region with a 313, while runner-up New Kent shot a 325.
Cates was the last region player to miss the state cut. He and Johnson both shot bogey on the first playoff hole, but then Johnson birdied the next hole to win the playoff. Cates shot par on that hole.
“Both hit beautiful drives right down the middle of the fairway,” Edwards said. “But Jeremy’s kicked into the right rough and had kind of a sketchy lie. He hit a beautiful shot to [within] 10 feet.”
Johnson, however, chipped within eight feet and made his birdie putt, Edwards said.
Regardless, Cates is only a junior. So he figures to contend for a state bid again next season. As a team, the Cougars will lose only one senior – Gramick – to graduation.
Following last season, Kettle Run lost four senior starters, including Rathbone.
“My kids are so young,” Edwards said. “Next year we’ll have more experience and I hope we’ll do even better than we did this year. … It bodes well for Kettle Run golf next year.”
On Monday, the Rathbone-Cates comparison extended beyond both competing in a region playoff. Weather also affected both their rounds.
In 2012, Rathbone began his five-man playoff in the Region II tournament on a Thursday, but lightning suspended play. So Rathbone returned on Saturday to earn one of the final two bids to the Group AA state tournament.
This Monday, the 3A East Region tournament got delayed about 90 minutes due to a thunderstorm with heavy rain and tornado warnings.
A staggered start was scheduled for 10:30 a.m., but the storm changed that to a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start.
“For the first 30 minutes, the greens were flooded,” Edwards said. “Some of the green were un-putt-able.”
Cates played his best early in the day despite those conditions. By shooting birdie on his eighth hole, Cates went one-under par with three birdies and three pars.
“And during the worst part of the weather,” Edwards said.
Cates’ “one bad hole” was his 16th hole of the day. He shot double-bogey the par-3 No. 8 hole of Shenandoah’s blue course.
“The wind picked up terribly on the tee,” Edwards said. “He hit the ball behind a tree.”
Cates then shot bogey on his 17th hole (No. 9) before finishing strong on his 18th (No. 1).
“He hit two beautiful shots to inside seven yards” of the hole, Edwards said. “He missed [the birdie] putt but tapped in for par.
“He was pretty sure he’d need to par it to have any chance to make the playoff,” Edwards said. “He got the par. It’s pretty impressive.”
The weather seemed to affect every golfer’s score. For comparison, last season, Western Albemarle won the Region II championship over Dominion 300-305.
“The scores were really high” Monday, Edwards said. “The scores weren’t as good as our old region, but I don’t know how much of that is attributed to the weather. A lot of the kids were getting frustrated.”
Rathbone qualified for state last season with a region round of 76.
Cates was the only Kettle Run golfer to come close to that Monday, but Edwards left pleased with the Cougars’ performance considering the conditions.
“It was a day where it would have been easy to give up,” he said. “But they gutted it out. … The scores are not what these kids would like to have shot, but we did really well.”
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