No one would have blamed Chris Wardrup if he walked off the course after his opening hole of the Desert Empire League boys’ golf championship on Wednesday. The Palm Desert High School sophomore hit three shots out of bounds at the par-4 first on the Gary Player Course at Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, two right and one left. He finished the hole with a 10, putting him six-over par before he even knew what hit him. Talk about a shock to the system.
But Wardrup wasn’t going anywhere, quickly putting the double-digit number on the card behind him and getting to work. The southpaw went on to make six birdies and an eagle on the round, remarkably carding a two-under par 70 to keep himself in the 36-hole tournament. The following day, Wardrup fired the low round of the event, a six-under 66 to finish with an eight-under total of 136. After spotting the rest of the field six shots on his first hole, he played his final 35 holes in 14 under to win by six, a turnaround that would be unfathomable for a tour pro let alone a high schooler.
“It was just a really interesting way to start the round,” Wardrup told Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs Desert Sun.
Interesting is putting it lightly. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar position as Wardrup’s, unable to put a ball in play off the first tee, you’re well aware of how traumatizing of an experience it can be. Most of us would be fine with crawling into a hole and never returning. Wardrup didn’t flinch, climbing all the way back to not only win, but to win in dominant fashion.
The next closest competitors checked in at two-under 142, two of them being Wardrup’s teammates, senior Derrick Liu and freshman Braden Bernaldo. Liu had a two-shot lead on Wardrup after the first round thanks to a four-under 68, but a two-over 74 on Thursday dropped him into a tie for second. Next time you think about giving up on a round, remember Wardrup, who had to pencil in a double-digit number on his scorecard to begin a tournament and kept on playing.