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Swofford cut short at state, takes 17th

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By Andrew Harner

BLOOMINGTON – Blake Swofford sat in the back seat of the team’s van, just itching to get back on the course.

But with a thunderstorm passing over Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington on Saturday, Swofford and the rest of the field had to take a break from the second round of the Class 1A state tournament until the weather cleared up.

Unfortunately for Swofford, who had played even par through the first three holes, the storm continued for more than two hours, forcing the tournament’s second round to be canceled and leaving Swofford tied for 17th place.

“I felt pretty bad, because I was banking on everyone dropping strokes because of the weather,” he said. “I was actually playing really good and picking up some spots.”

Coach Brandon Taylor said that Swofford likely would have picked up several positions in the standings had the event continued, because many players were struggling through the first few holes.

“He had a real nice up and down on the first hole (14) and saved par, with a 12-14-foot putt,” Taylor said. “He was even after three, and Blake was handling the weather better than other kids in the field and had moved up a couple of spots.”

He had a sub-par round last Friday, shooting a 78, opening the round with two bogeys and a double-bogey.

Swofford’s first shot of the tournament took an unlucky bounce that started him off in the wrong direction.

“His first tee shot was hit well, but it hit a cart path and went in a bush,” Taylor said. “If he didn’t have to take the unplayable lie, maybe those first three holes are different.”

Swofford settled in after that, however, shooting four pars and a birdie on the next five holes, and seven pars on the final nine holes of the round.

The birdie was his 30th of the season.

Golf isn’t leaving Swofford’s life, though, as he plans to play  in college and might even continue playing after he is finished with school.

His golf career began when he was a young kid in his grandparents’ backyard. His grandfather was a golfer, and had a few holes in the backyard.

And that’s where Swofford took up the game.

“He golfed, and has some flags up in the yard, so I was hitting balls probably a year before I even went to a golf course,” he said.

The sport has been good to Swofford ever since, as he has captured numerous championships and twice been to the state tournament.

His high school accolades, however, may be just the beginning of his achievements in the sport.

Lewis and Clark Community College is his first choice of schools to attend for golf, he said, and while there, he would take his general education courses before hopefully transferring to a Division I or Division II university to continue his golf career.

“He’ll have a little more time to work on his golf game, because you can set up a college schedule to be flexible,” Taylor said. “If he puts in the time to even himself with the talent of those at the next level, there’s no reason he can’t compete there.”

He is undecided on a major at this time, and would enjoy a career centered around golf, whether as a player or an employee at a pro shop.

“There are a lot of little tours around, and if you win on one of those, you can win $5,000 or $10,000, so if you win a couple of those, you can make enough money doing what you love to do,” Swofford said. “Or, you could work at a pro shop or something like that.”

And if that doesn’t work out, he still hopes that can play in a local league or a local tour in his spare time.