La Feria golfer and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley commit Andy Cortez shot a 75 during the first round of the University Interscholastic League Class 4A state championship Monday at Plum Creek golf course in Kyle.
Cortez’s opening round score puts him in a three-way tie for eighth place and just four strokes back of the leader, Jack Burke of Orange Little Cypress-Mauriceville, who shot a 71.
“(Monday) could have been anyone’s day,” Cortez said. “It was just (Burke’s) day (Monday), and I guess I just take it day by day, and hopefully (today) will be my day.”
In Cortez’s second trip to the state tournament, La Feria coach David Briones said the senior was better prepared to deal with the ups and downs that can sometimes affect golfers new to the stage.
The highlight of Cortez’s round was a 30-foot birdie from the base of a tree on the 12th hole. On the next hole, Cortez slumped into a triple bogey. Despite that, he shot well enough through the rest of his round to stay in the mix heading into today’s final round.
“I was just trying to minimize my score,” Cortez said. “There wasn’t much I could do other than try to get it over with and not let it affect the next hole.”
Briones was impressed by Cortez’s ability to recover from the setback and cited his golfer’s improved focus and mindset as the District 32-4A medalist progressed throughout the season.
“He had a pretty good day,” Briones said. “After that hole he was able to recover pretty good. Compared to last time at state (a two-day total of 170), he’s got a shot at contention and even a medal, so he’s excited about that.”
Cortez was paired with Braxton Floyd of Pampa and Tristan Nelson of Canton. When the pairings for the state tournament were released, Cortez reached out to Floyd, a Northwestern State commit and one of Cortez’s best friends growing up in College Station.
He said the two grew apart after Cortez’s family moved to the Valley and Floyd relocated 750 miles north to Pampa, but the reunion at state allowed the two college-bound friends to bond after their time apart.
“Getting to play with (Floyd) was fun,” Cortez said. “Because we were going back and forth with each other.”
Cortez and Floyd are tied for eighth heading into today’s final round, trailing Nelson by one stroke. Cortez is scheduled to tee of at 8:50 a.m. today with a new playing partner, Brownwood’s Jaryn Pruitt. Pruitt posted a 78 on Monday.