Lest there be confusion concerning the pronunciation of Hart High golfer Jason Gore’s last name, quickly review the following:
It rhymes with bore, fittingly, since most of his tee shots sizzle through the air as though they have been shot from a rifle.
It is not pronounced “gory,” a pronunciation and term better suited for hacks who cannot break 100 despite the liberal use of a foot wedge. Gore, a 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore, stopped thinking in terms of 100 years ago. In fact, 300--as in yards--is bandied about more often.
At a recent qualifying event in a national long-drive contest, Gore, who had just turned 16, ripped a drive 306 yards. He didn’t advance to the next leg of the event, but then, he was the youngest player entered.
Gore used his length off the tee and dogged determination to come within an eyelash of winning the boys’ individual title in the California Interscholastic Federation/Southern California Golf Assn. finals Monday at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana.
Austin Maki, a senior from Southern Section team champion Estancia who tied Gore with a 36-hole total of 148, defeated Gore on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Gore, who fired a pair of 74s on the par-71 course, trailed Maki by three shots with four holes remaining but didn’t quit.
“I figured I wasn’t real close,” Gore said. “But I knew I wasn’t out of it. And, all of a sudden, he’s putting to tie me .”
Maki, who has signed a letter of intent to play next season at Arizona, needed all the cool he could muster on the back nine of the afternoon round. After playing the first 27 holes of the 36-hole individual competition at two over, he nearly handed the title to a late-charging Gore.
A two-man battle between Gore and Maki heated up on the sixth hole--which was actually the 15th hole since players started the afternoon round on the back nine. At the time, Maki was cruising at four over for the tournament and held a three-shot lead over Gore.
Gore then bogeyed the sixth, a 216-yard par three, to fall four shots back. Yet Maki hit his tee shot on the sixth into a greenside bunker and blasted 15 feet past the pin before three-putting for a double-bogey, letting Gore back into the tournament.
Gore then reached the 514-yard par-five seventh with a thundering drive and five-iron. Playing in the twosome in front of Maki, Gore two-putted from eight feet for birdie to drop to seven over.
After pushing his drive into the trees on the same hole, Maki sank a four-foot putt to save bogey and a piece of the lead at seven over with two holes remaining.
Gore applied more heat on the 212-yard par-three eighth, drilling another five-iron onto the back fringe. This is called striking while the iron is hot.
Gore drained a 20-foot putt for birdie to take a one-shot lead.
Gore parred the final hole, signed his score card and waited on the clubhouse steps for Maki, who needed a birdie to force a playoff. Maki pumped his drive into the right rough, but knocked his second shot to within 25 feet.
Maki slammed home the putt for his first birdie of the afternoon round, completing a six-over 77. The playoff started on the par-five first hole, and Maki again hit his drive into the right rough. Gore found the fairway and conservatively threaded a four-iron to within 60 yards of the green.
Maki’s second shot came to rest approximately 110 yards from the flagstick, but he was left with a difficult side-hill lie and a blind shot to the flag. He whipped out a nine-iron, and with the ball well below his feet, tossed the ball onto the elevated green--to within eight feet of the hole.
Gore sculled his pitch shot well over the green, and Maki put the tournament away by sinking his putt for birdie.
Perhaps Gore should try to avoid sudden death. Last month in the Southern Section individual championships, Hart teammate Mike Miller was defeated on the first hole of sudden death.
“Maybe it’s a Hart jinx,” Gore said, grinning. “But at least we made it that far in the first place.”
And when you hit it that far , chances are pretty good that Gore might get there again.