Craig's Gagg keeps cool through tough day
MADISON Jordan Gagg simply shook his head when a birdie put on No. 4 lipped out and led to a three-putt bogey.
A 20-footer for birdie two holes later elicited a confident stride to pluck his ball from the bottom of the cup, but that was about it.
The Janesville Craig senior is as cool as they come at the WIAA State Golf Championships, and he showed it on Monday when he didn't let a troublesome triple-bogey on 14 leave him rattled. Gagg shot a 5-over 77 at University Ridge, which will likely keep him from contending for a state title, but left him tied for 23rd heading into today's final round.
Janesville Parker sophomore John Milner shot a first-round 79 and is tied for 35th in the 104-player field.
"I just know that if I get too upset, that can turn my score negative real quick," Gagg said. "If I keep a level head, I have a good chance to come back from it."
Cedarburg leads the Division 1 team race at 9-over 297. Beloit Memorial, paced by an even-par round from Kolton Kelley, is tied for seventh, 23 shots off the pace. Fort Atkinson shot 335.
Gagg's composure showed throughout his round.
Participating at state for the third time but for the first time without his Cougars teammates, he got off to quick start, with a birdie on the par-5 second hole.
It looked like he might dip even lower with a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 4, but it lipped out hard off the left edge of the cup. Gagg missed a knee-knocker coming back.
After finding the par-3 fifth hole in regulation, he three-putted again. It was a quick stretch that could have left the most experienced golfer rattled.
"It was a little frustrating, but I know I'll eventually get some to fall," Gagg said. "I can't get too mad in the moment."
Sure enough, his lengthy birdie putt at No. 6 dropped and he was back to even par.
Gagg was two-over through 13, when his iron off the tee strayed off to the right and into the woods. He took a drop, and then took a risk at firing his ball through the trees that line the right side of the hole. His ball caromed off a tree and back toward the woods.
The eventual result was a triple bogey.
"I'm thinking, 'Let's try to make something happen,'" Gagg said. "Then I hit the tree and think, 'I shouldn't have tried to make something happen.'
"After that, it's just take whatever score you get and try to come back strong on the last couple holes."
He played the final four holes at even par.
Milner, who qualified individually in a sectional playoff along with Gagg, never shot worse than bogey on a single hole, but said his driver and putter cost him at times.
Playing for the second time at state, Milner was far more discouraged by his round than his followers and coaches.
"I got really worked up and started to get nervous; I wasn't feeling comfortable with my putter," Milner said. "I'm going to work on a lot of stuff and I'll have a positive mindset going into (today)."
Similarly, no matter the outcome, Gagg is looking forward to enjoying his final high-school round.
"I'm just going to have some fun and maybe I'll be able to go after some pins out there," he said.