Missing the cut
There are few moments of heartbreak in high school sports that can be as cruel as a regional golf tournament, and Andrew Yeast and the Mercer County boys gave us another illustration of that this week.
Mercer came tantalizingly close to the state tournament berth that it has craved for the last three years, only to see it slip away in a dramatic team playoff in the regional tournament at Dix River. And as if that wasn’t devastating enough, the team playoff loss left Andrew Yeast, the Titans’ top player, to face an individual playoff with two other boys for one spot at state. Three holes later, Yeast lost that playoff on the very same hole where his clutch play a few minutes earlier had put Mercer into the team playoff.
It happens so often in golf: A season’s worth of work goes for naught in one day of missed opportunity. Yes, that happens in other sports, too, but it seems more pronounced in golf, where weeks of steady play and good scores mean nothing if you can’t outplay the competition this one time. And the nature of the game only adds to the drama, as coaches and spectators watch silently and helplessly as players are left alone to think through their performance and deal with the pressure some 70 or 80 times during the day.
Yeast will be fine, of course. He’ll cheer on teammate Ward Dedman, the only Titan who did qualify for state, next week in Bowling Green, and he’ll turn his attention toward college golf, where he should be an asset to some school. Mercer and coach Jay Anderson will be fine, too, with three of its top five players returning and others on the way up to make another run at a regional title.
Yeast isn’t the only deserving player who never got the chance to play in a state tournament, and he isn’t the only area player who just missed a trip to state. Casey County’s Natalie Wesley finished one shot away from the highest qualifying score at the local girls regional, but she went to state last year and will have one more chance next year.
You make your own breaks and mistakes in golf, so each player and team’s result is a product only of what they did or didn’t do. Still, it’s hard not to feel for those who agonize each year around this time over what one more good shot might have meant.