Pierce finishes on good side of polar opposites

Photo by Tegan Johnston/The Herald
Jasper’s Carson Pierce, who tracked a tee shot during a match earlier this season, concluded his career in Wednesday’s state finals as the senior fired a 73 on the second and final day of the state meet. Pierce finished with a 36-hole tally of 165.

From Herald Staff Reports

For Carson Pierce, the two days of the boys golf state finals seemed as if they were from different planets.

After Tuesday’s first round at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel was a choppy day of weather delays from the start as the Jasper senior labored his way to a 92, Pierce returned to his normal self Wednesday. Playing the back nine first, Pierce birdied the 10th hole to set the tone for his final high school round in which he shot a 73 — a score similar to a handful of players populating the top of the leaderboard. When combined with his first day’s score, Pierce tied for 82nd place overall in the 100-golfer field.

Center Grove’s Noah Gillard earned individual state champion honors with a 138 after he blazed his way to an 18-hole record 66 on the final day. The record pace continued for Center Grove, which lived up to its No. 1 ranking and earned its first team golf state title by firing a 573 to break the 36-hole state finals record by two strokes. Carmel (586) and Westfield (594) finished second and third, respectively in the 15-team field, while Evansville North (614) took seventh and Castle (638) tied for 12th.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” Pierce said. “I was happy I ended on a good note, but then again I was kind of disappointed that I shot so bad the first day. It is what it is so I can’t really do anything about it now, I just have to look back and think positively about it.”

Pierce said there won’t be much to remember about that first day. Instead of the two delays that popped up in his first six holes, Pierce said the crowds will stick out in his mind.

He’ll recall moments from the five birdies and eight pars he shot in his final 18 holes Wednesday, and playing even-par on his last nine.

“It felt pretty good,” Pierce said. “It felt like I was in the zone like I usually was. It felt good to bounce back from (Tuesday).”

Pierce said he was never quite able to build any momentum Tuesday, a problem exacerbated by all the starts and stops. That changed Wednesday, when skies cleared and Pierce said he started drilling more greens and fairways.

Pierce will recall those shots — the ones followed by cheers from the larger crowds that accompany the state finals, and make playing a lot more enjoyable, he said.

“You get a lot more reactions whenever you make a big putt or stick it close, so I think that’s fun with a big crowd watching you,” Pierce said.

That peaked as Pierce started closing his final round. After he birdied the 18th hole, he then played even-par through the front nine, which included another pair of birdies and five pars.

And when Pierce approached the eighth green with a chance to create his best state finals memory, he didn’t pass it up.

“I had about a 30- or 35-footer for birdie and I made it,” Pierce said. “That was nice because the whole crowd cheered and congratulated me on that, so that felt good to make that putt on my second-to-last high school hole.”

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