Brendan McCauley’s hole-in-one during the final round of last year’s Class 4A state tournament wasn’t really a statement about his mental approach to golf. But it sure did improve his frame of mind for the last five holes.
McCauley, then an Olympia High School junior, shot 43 on the front nine in steady rain in Camas.
McCauley grabbed a 9-iron for No. 13, which was playing to a front pin at about 150 yards. One swing later, he wrote a “1” on his scorecard, boosting him to a back-nine 34 and a share of fifth place at Camas Meadows Golf Club.
McCauley went birdie-par-par-par-par over his final five holes to finish with a 77 and a two-day total of 150, six strokes behind champion Brian Humphreys of Camas.
“At the time, I wasn’t playing the best,” McCauley said. “After making the hole-in-one, my mental game got better.”
Bears coach Skip Fabritius said McCauley didn’t need the hole-in-one — in conditions he described as “horrific” — to prove his tough-mindedness.
“Mentally, it didn’t do anything he didn’t already have in the bag,” Fabritius said.
Physically, McCauley is the whole package, his coach said.
“He has a lot of natural ability,” Fabritius said. “Great tempo. Just a nice, short, simple swing. He doesn’t find a lot of errant shots.
“He’s long off the tee, comfortable with his driver off the tee. … He’s good at reading danger.”
McCauley, the only senior on the Bears’ six-man varsity, expects to be pushed all season for No. 1 by his close friend, junior Nolan Backman, who also played on the second day of the state tournament last year.
As a freshman, Backman already was technically sound, Fabritius said. This year, he has added 20-25 yards to his drive and length through all his clubs.
“There’s going to be a fight,” Fabritius said. “Nolan has always worked very hard on his game, and this offseason was no exception.”
Fabritius also expects good things from Connor McCauley, Brendan’s cousin, who played in the state tournament last season as a freshman.
The rest of the Bears’ top six are junior Jake Nixon, freshman Riley Killit and sophomore Tanner Kay.
Kay didn’t play last year, Fabritius said, but shot a solid 40 (nine holes) in the Bears’ first match this spring.
Brendan McCauley is bound next fall for Washington State University. He says he will keep his options open about playing on the Cougars’ golf team as a walk-on.
In the short term, his senior-year goal is an individual state championship.
There is family history connected to that pursuit: His uncle Jim McCauley, a state golf champion for Olympia in 1987, entered the school’s athletic Hall of Fame last year. On his mother’s side, uncle Jeff Greene won a state golf championship for Aberdeen High School in 1983.
Brendan McCauley’s goals for his team are equally clear-cut: win the 4A Narrows League championship, which usually means getting by perennial power Bellarmine Prep. The two teams will meet May 6 at Fircrest Golf Club.
“We could potentially be league champions,” McCauley said. “If we play well, we have a chance at beating them — that’s our goal. And hopefully we get a lot of our guys to state.”
Where, with one swing, you can turn a bad day around.
SOUTH SOUND Golfers to watch
Mikayla Blumer, Timberline, jr.Kayla Monroe, Tumwater, sr.
Lauryn Keating, Elma, jr.Melanie Pedigo, Olympia, sr.
Audrey Marlatt, N. Thurston, jr.Naomi Yamamoto, Capital, jr.
(4A/3A Narrows and 2B only)
Nolan Backman, Olympia, jr.Brendan McCauley, Olympia, sr.
Grant Cation, Shelton, sr.Connor McCauley, Olympia, so.
Mitchell DeAndre, Shelton, jr.Dallas McClellan, N. Thurston, sr.
Note: 2A and 1A boys golf was played in the fall.
SOUTH SOUND GIRLS TENNIS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sydney Pham, Olympia, jr.Natalie Sypeck, Timberline, sr.
Serena Ranney, Shelton, sr.Ainsley Winterrowd, N. Thurston, so.
Sidney Smith, N. Thurston, sr.
Capital: Baylee Yost, sr., and Sooyoun Park, sr.
Olympia: Rachel Kelson, sr., and Catty Zhang, email@example.com