Boys varsity golf comes so close to punching a ticket to states but falls short on last hole


They were so close—so close to a state finals berth.

In head coach Paul TenEyck’s eyes, though, the positives outweighed the negatives at Milham Park on Tuesday. 

“I was really proud of the way we competed today at regionals,” coach TenEyck said. “One could look at how close we were to finishing third and making it to states, and it was that close. Or, we can choose to look at what got us to that point. We played our best round of the year at the most important tournament of the year.”

Going into the last hole, FHC was tied with the Mona Shores Sailors for fourth place, a team that was previously ranked number one overall in Divison 1 for the state of Michigan. Portage Northern sat just ahead of the Rangers and Sailors on the leaderboard, so the only thing separating the three teams was a mere stroke. As junior Joe Murdock stepped up to the tee box on 18, all of the pieces were set up for a chaotic and storybook finish. To send his team to states, Joe had to birdie the hole. Unfortunately for Joe and FHC, the cliche phrase “all good things have to come to an end” came to life when Joe tripled the last hole. 

“It was a classic choke,” Joe jokingly said with a great deal of humility. “My most pivotal hole was probably 17 because I had an easy birdie opportunity and missed a short putt, but I handled it well. I went into 18 with a one-shot lead and hit my tee shot into the trees, so I had to punch out.”

It was certainly not the way Joe and FHC wanted to end their season as a team, but there were still plenty of positives to draw back on at regionals, including Joe’s performance minus the last hole. Although Joe sputtered on the last hole, he shot two-over-par and finished tied for fifth with Tyler Gillespie from Forest Hills Northern. Joe’s 74 on the day was enough to clinch him an individual state finals appearance on Friday, June 11. Stepping up again for FHC when the stakes were high, senior Jeremy James erupted for one of his best rounds of the year next to his nine-hole round at an OK White Jamboree on Tuesday, April 27. For Jeremy, it was the perfect way to cap off his four-year career as a Ranger athlete. All in all, it was one of those days on the links when each swing just felt right. 

“I was able to handle the pressure today,” Jeremy said. “Whether it was on my drives or approach shots, I always just felt comfortable and confident, which led to the low score. I knew I had the potential to do well if I put everything together, and today it showed when I finished twelfth. It was an incredibly special end to the season with this being my last moment as an FHC Ranger athlete.”

Besides Joe, the MHSAA LP Boys Divison 1 Regional Tournament was the last stand for the boys varsity golf team. So on Friday, June 11, Joe will pack his bags and make the 57-minute drive out to Forest Akers West Golf Course in East Lansing to compete for a state championship.