Hobart struggles in first round of D4 finals

Onekama senior Derek Hobart stares down his second shot on No. 17 at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East during Friday’s opening round of the Division 4 state finals. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

EAST LANSING — Playing in the state finals is an opportunity for players to bring back mementos of their achievement.

But don’t expect Derek Hobart to have his first-round scorecard framed.

“Burn it,” were the instructions from the Onekama senior.

Hobart opened the Division 4 state finals at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East on Friday with a 14-over 85 for his highest score of the season.

What went wrong?

“Everything,” Hobart said. “I couldn’t get off the tee at all and putting was the worst. I couldn’t make a putt at all. If I had a birdie putt, I’d leave it 6 feet short. That was probably what I blame (the 85) on the most.”

Hobart is the first Portager to play in the state finals since Ben Finan in 2002, but struggled from the outset after shooting 77 in a practice round Thursday. He finished with five pars, 12 bogeys and a double.

“I just wasn’t playing well at all,” Hobart said, adding that nerves weren’t a problem. “I couldn’t do anything I was trying to do.”

Onekama coach Tom McCraner said Hobart hit only four fairways and had four three-putts.

“If he tightens those two things up tomorrow, he’ll have a decent score,” McCraner said. “He waited a long time to come here and I expect him to do a lot better tomorrow. He can do nothing but improve on his round today.”

The 85 puts Hobart 15 shots off the lead set by Saginaw Nouvel’s Nick Ludka. So with the chance of winning a medal very slim, Hobart said he’ll be more relaxed for today’s final 18 holes.

“I’ll definitely try hard, but I’m not as worried about it,” he said. “I need a little bit of redemption. If not, it’s not that big of a deal. I said my goal was to make it here and I’m here.”

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