COLUMBUS - When the birdie putt fell into the cup, Bryce Gorrell looked over to his family and his coach with an exasperated look on his face and dropped his putter like a slugger admiring a home run.
It took 36 holes, but the Hopewell-Loudon junior finally scored his first birdie of the Division III state boys golf tournament.
The birdie helped Gorrell to an 81 on the day, two strokes better than his Friday score and gave him a 164 for the tourney and a tie for 16th at the Scarlet Course.
"Usually I don't go 35 holes without a birdie, for sure," Gorrell said.
Jeg Coughlin of Powell Village Academy maintained his first-day tourney lead to win the tournament. The junior carded an even par 71 to give him a 144 for the tourney. He edged Ottawa Hills' Ben Silverman by three strokes.
Ottawa Hills won the team crown, rallying from six strokes down on the first day to beat Gahanna Columbus Academy, 647-659.
"I had nothing today. I'll be honest. I was hitting it all over. I didn't see the fairway very much. I was trying to stay in there and have fun with it," Gorrell said. "That was the key. Finally in the last four holes, I started hitting a few good shots and made a birdie finally on the last hole."
The day wasn't without its share of adventures. He was supposed to tee off at No. 1 but was moved to No. 10 to start his day, which he opened with three straight bogeys. After recovering with a pair of pars, Gorrell came to No. 15, where he tallied a triple-bogey seven, due in part to hitting out of bounds off the tee.
"I did it again," Gorrell said after he hit his tee shot on that fateful hole Saturday. While he was out-of-bounds again, he didn't suffer the same scoring fate, escaping with a double bogey.
"After hitting a lot of bad shots, it gets to you after a while," Gorrell said. "It was starting to get on my nerves and I was starting to lose confidence, which you can't really do. It was just hard. On this course, you can't miss shots and expect to score well. You have to hit every shot on the mark."
He followed with a pair of pars on Nos. 16 and 17 before finishing his first nine holes with a bogey. He started his second nine with five straight bogeys.
But then the switch came on again and Gorrell busted out three straight pars before his finishing birdie.
"He came on strong here at the end," Hopewell-Loudon coach Bob Maurer said. "He hit four greens in regulation which he had been struggling with all day. He'd either be strong or he'd be weak (hitting into the green). And he got a birdie on his 36th hole. You can't that. He stayed focused. That was his main thing."
Maurer said there's plenty of work to do for Gorrell to be back in Columbus next year.
"He needs to be able to work (through things) when he has problems like he had today. He was getting very handsy out there: right, left, too much or too little," Maurer said. "He needs to be able to correct that out there and get his game settled down. Every year he's been playing a little bit better and next he's got to play a little bit better to get to that next level and he's doing it. He needs to just focus on his game and he'll do it."
Gorrell said he knows where he wants to be next year.
"I've done it before. That's the big key. Next year I want to come in playing good and give myself a chance after the first round. I shot myself in the foot after the first round," Gorrell said. "I want to play for the win. That's what I always go for. This has been a learning experience for sure."