Maslanka from Riverside narrowly beats Walsh from Prep in Class 2A predistrict qualifier

Sep. 18—GREENFIELD TWP. — Riverside’s Michael Maslanka and Scranton Prep’s Gavin Walsh will always agree on one thing.

Neither enjoys putting on Elkview Country Club’s greens, notorious for their subtle and sometimes sharp breaks that can give even the best putter a case of the yips.

But at Monday’s Lackawanna League Class 2A predistrict golf qualifier, Maslanka and Walsh managed to get enough putts to drop for a one-two finish, Maslanka shooting a 4-over 76, Walsh one behind after three straight bogeys to end his round.

“Definitely sweetens it,” Maslanka said of the result. “I wish I played a little better.

“When I first showed up, conditions were wet, windy, cold, I was not expecting any low scores. But I definitely had the potential to be a lot lower. That’s what kind of makes you mad.

“I don’t think it was anything different. Just the putter, same as always. These greens, just can’t figure them out. Something about the short putts, I’m overreading, then the next one I’m underwriting. It’s a struggle. You’ve got to be on the right side of the holes.”

Sometimes, even that doesn’t help.

“Putting wise, I’m never good with these greens,” Walsh said. “Ever.

“I think just the way the greens are. There’s so much slope on every green. Always a spot that you cannot hit. You’re just trying not to hit that spot.”

Maslanka and Walsh posted two of the sub-80 scores in the Class 2A field. Lackawanna Trail’s Grady June had the other with 79.

Up to 30 players could have moved on to the District 2 tournament Oct. 3 at Fox Hill Country Club, but only 22 met the qualifying standard of 93.

“The front was weird because I had two or three three-putts, but I also had three birdies,” said Walsh, whose other five teammates also qualified for districts. “I made a lot of good par putts, too. The front was definitely the key to my score, but on the back it unfolded in a way.”

That erased some terrific shot making from Walsh, who stuffed a 50-degree wedge to a foot for birdie on No. 2, added another tap-in birdie on the par-4 sixth, then nearly dunked his tee shot on the par-3 ninth.

“It landed like a foot from the pin and it spun back left,” Walsh said. “I just barely caught the edge on the birdie putt I made.

“I hit a lot of good shots.”

And some that got away. Walsh made five bogeys over the inward nine, including the last three, a slightly errant tee ball on No. 18 costing him a shot to share medalist honors.

“I had a bad drive. I looked at my ball, I was right behind a tree on a root,” Walsh said. “That always helps. I just tried to pitch it out the best I could, left myself a putt and I just didn’t make it.

“I came into today thinking just shoot a decent score and make it to districts. I’m still happy with what I did today.”

Maslanka’s driver kept everything in order for the Vikings senior,

“I drove it well beside the first hole,” Maslanka said. “Only drive that got me out of position. Other than that I hit it well, far and somewhat straight.

“It definitely sets it up. Struggling with the putter, I wasn’t thinking three-putt because I had those nice 10-, 15-footers for birdie, so it wasn’t that nerve racking.”

Oddly, getting off to a slow start — 3-over through seven holes — took away some expectations, and Maslanka turned into a scoreboard watcher, slowly climbing to the top of Class 2A.

“Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have been (watching) if I was playing somewhat better,” Maslanka said. “When I go somewhat low, I’d rather keep it to myself, not get to my head. I wasn’t in a position where I was going low so I was like, ‘yeah, might as well check.’ See where I stand.

“The first few holes, everyone’s still around the top and then after that, conditions definitely don’t get any easier so everyone started to (fall off).”

Maslanka gradually moved all the way to the top, locking up the low score with pars on the final two holes.

Contact the writer:

570-348-9100, ext. 5437

@mmyersTT on Twitter

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