Curtis in a zone all to his own |

Curtis in a zone all to his own

In golfspeak, Patrick Curtis is buckled into life’s driver’s seat right now.

Life couldn’t get much better for the South Tahoe High sophomore, or could it?

After all, Curtis recently qualified for the Northern Nevada 4A zone golf tournament, received his driver’s license and was hired by Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“I’m at least hoping to make it to state and then play well at state,” said Curtis, the only Viking who will compete in today’s 18-hole zone championships at Dayton Valley Golf Course in Dayton.

That Curtis qualified for zone is testimony to his character of not giving up. Last month, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard at one of the six zone qualifiers at Desert Lakes GC in Fernley. While other players had the luxury of six conference matches to gain zone-qualifying points, Curtis only had five.

“Once the DQ happened, I was bummed,” Curtis said. “I knew I had a chance but really had to pull through and shoot some good golf the rest of the way to make zone.”

His chances looked pretty bleak entering the final qualifier at Elko last week. Only the top 10 overall scorers from nonzone-qualifying teams are eligible for the postseason, and Curtis was the odd man out at 11th.

But he caught a break when Elko experienced some Tahoe-like weather – snow and blustery wind – yet tournament officials elected to play the final 18 holes.

“Everybody was pretty cold; I wasn’t cold at all. It kind of worked out because we’ve been playing in the wind and practicing in the wind at Sierra Nevada. I was used to it,” said Curtis, who fired a final-round 86 to move up to the ninth spot and receive a zone invitation.

Curtis’ teammate, Sean Fannan, wasn’t as fortunate. He missed qualifying for zone by one shot.

Patterson attributes Curtis’ late-season surge to his improved putting.

“His short game, particularly his putting has really improved,” Patterson said. “We do a lot of drills and games on the short game in practice. I know he’s in the top two, if not No. 1, in putts per round.”

Of course, that’s only part of Curtis’ secret to improved putting. The extra edge really comes during the idle evening hours at home when he sets up a cup and methodically hones his stroke.

Curtis also has a chance to make Viking golf history today. No STHS boys golfer has ever qualified for the state tournament. Magnus Bohn, a Swedish exchange student, has come the closest, missing state by one stroke two years ago.

“Pat is very capable of shooting in the low 80s or high 70s, which might get him in. But the league is really tough this year and the scores have really improved. I would think a 77 or 78 might have a chance, but it might be as low as 75 or 76 to get to state this year,” Patterson said.

Prior to an 18-hole practice round on Tuesday, Curtis had never played Dayton. He shot an 85 but came away from the round realizing where he made his mistakes.

“I can improve on that, because I wasn’t hitting my drives well and that got me into trouble on the par 5s. I could have knocked off five strokes on my score on the par 5s,” Curtis said. “You hardly get a flat lie for a second shot, and that makes it so tough because the ball is always above your feet or below them. The main thing on that course is to hit the ball in the middle of the fairway.”

Patterson believes five holes will determine how well Curtis plays.

“Course management is real important at Dayton. Holes 7, 8 and 9 are brutal and 16 and 18 are really tough. Hopefully with his practice round and that we’ll get him a yardage book, he’ll be able to figure out how to play those five holes,” Patterson said. “I think he has a good chance to put up a good number and maybe give himself a chance to move on to state.”

Considering the roll that Curtis is on, qualifying for state is well within reach from his driver’s seat.

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