Palmer — Something unusual happened Friday at the Palmer Golf Course.
Anchorage's Terri McAngus failed to break 80 in the first round of the Alaska Golf Association's State Senior Amateur stroke play championships.
Her round of 80 on the par-72 layout was still good enough to hold a three-stroke lead in the women's championship flight, and leading state tournaments has become the norm since the 51-year-old Texas native with a 1.9 handicap moved to Alaska a little more than three years ago.
After winning her first AGA Women's State Amateur match play tournament last month, McAngus currently holds all three major state golf titles. She is working on her second straight senior title this weekend and will try to win a third straight AGA Women's State Amateur stroke play title next month in Fairbanks.
McAngus isn't the only one chasing a second straight senior title. In the men's championship flight, defending champion Benjie Sumulong shot a 74 Friday, which was highlighted by a 60-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th hole.
McAngus, who said her lowest round this year was a 69 at Settlers Bay, hopes to get her game back on track by the time the 54-hole event concludes Sunday. A slow start put McAngus 4-over through seven holes Friday, but a birdie on the par-5 eighth served as a positive momentum shift.
"I was hoping to just finish the round that way, if I could just steady out," McAngus said.
Bogeys on 10 and 13 set McAngus back, however, and the worst was yet to come in a round she called a real test of patience.
"The real sting came at 17," she said.
After driving her golf ball into the hazard to the left of the 17th fairway, McAngus found her ball and mistakenly thought it was resting outside the hazard. She took practice swings and illegally grounded her club in a hazard in the process, a violation that incurred a two-stroke penalty. McAngus later realized she was in a hazard, and called a penalty on herself to score a triple-bogey seven.
"I had just a brain freeze," she said. "To finish with an 80 was disappointing."
There was a time when McAngus shot around 80 on a regular basis. Her handicap had stalled in the upper single digits, and she couldn't break through and shoot consistently in the low 70s. McAngus quizzed a scratch player she knew in San Antonio and he told her she couldn't get better on her own. The advice led her to hire a professional instructor.
"I was just trying to get better on my own and I came to a point where I needed instruction to help me break through to the low single digits (handicap)," McAngus said.
There wasn't any secret discovery made about the golf swing, but having an instructor helped McAngus get rid of flaws she couldn't see or feel.
"You think you are doing certain things," McAngus said. "If you videotaped yourself, you'd see you are not doing those things. It helps to have someone with outside eyes who can say, 'You're really coming over the top,' or, 'You need to work on getting into the slot a little better.' "
When her game is clicking, McAngus doesn't need a golf pro. But she is quick to sign up for lessons when her game gets off track. When McAngus develops a hitch in her swing these days, she visits Blake Smith of the Anchorage Golf Course
If there is a weak point in McAngus' game, she said it's her short game, but she is improving on and around the greens. The most impressive element of her game is her powerful, controlled tee shot. McAngus has an extremely slow back swing, but generates enough force to regularly out-drive some of her opponents by more than 50 yards.
More impressive than power is McAngus' ability to shape shots to fit a particular hole. On a dogleg to the right, the right-hander bends her tee shots left to right. On a dogleg left, she draws the ball right to left to fit the contours of the hole.
"My swing isn't necessarily picture perfect, but I know how it works," she said. "You get in these zones and everything clicks."
McAngus attributes her power to strength developed through playing college basketball and softball for St. Mary's University in San Antonio.
Terri's husband, Lee McAngus, introduced her to golf when she was 30 and looking for a non-contact sport to satisfy her competitive desires.
"I didn't even consider golf a sport when I was younger," she said.
Now, she loves the game for many reasons, one of which is the social aspect. McAngus is becoming a fixture in the local golf community, even working part-time at Moose Run Golf Course. At the end of Friday's round, McAngus hugged her playing partners on the 18th green and then joined them in the clubhouse for a card game and a crab-leg lunch provided by the AGA.
"I'm surprised how many people are into golf in Alaska," she said. "There's more of a passion (for the game) here."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
AGA State Senior Amateur
Stroke play championships
Championship flight -- 1) Benjie Sumulong, 74; 2) (tie) Bill Iverson; Bill Arnold, 75; 4) Bruce Hesselbach, 76; 5) (tie) Dan Fauske; Mark Schneiter, 77; 7) (tie) Bill Toney; Paul Lindhag; Rick Boyles, 78; 10) (tie) Bert Verrall; Stephen Barnett, 80; 12) (tie) Chuck Tanner; Donald Grasse; Jeff Ranf, 81; 15) John Gose, 82; 16) Bob Heselbach, 83; 17) Robert Kimball, 84; 18) Peter Hakes, 85; 19) Rene Alvarez, 86; 20) (tie) Jim Rowland; Joseph Orley, 88. First flight -- 1) 1) Jess Hall, 77; 2) Tony Bickert, 80; 3) (tie) Jan Affinito; Jay Wisthoff, 81; 5) Jan Siebert, 82; 6) (tie) Joe Hendricks; Peter Allen; Ray Reekie, 83; 9) (tie) Mike Rohoads; Richard Bohon, 84; 11) (tie) Patrick Navarre; Tim Wesenberg, 85; 13) (tie) Arther Sample III; Ed Sanderson, 87; 15) (tie) Eugene Hyman; Michael Gardner; William Gartrell, 88; 18) (tie) Bob Seims; James Weed; Paul Dube, 89; 21) (tie) Daniel Conrad; Mike Azzara, 90; 23) Bill McCormick, 91; 24) Tim Connolly, 93; 25) David Crawford, 102. Second flight -- 1) Tony Cosgrave, 82; 2) (tie) Craig Savage; Ronald Perry, 84; 4) Kevin Creelman, 87; 5) (tie) Alvin Glidden; Ernest Daniels, 89; 7) Greg Howard, 90; 8) Steve McDermot, 91; 9) (tie) Bill Bankston; Gary Petros; Gordon Franke, 92; 12) Raymond Grubb, 93; 13) Richard Jordan, 94; 14) Will Branstiter, 95; 15) Terry Simon, 96; 16) (tie) Bill Cazmier; Gary George; John Shank, 99; 19) (tie) Fred Stevens; Mark Wisthoff, 102; 21) (tie) Michael Stevens; Stan Sayers, 104; 23) Randy Simpson, 105; 24) Stan Ditus, 111. Masters (age 45-54) -- 1) David Hamilton, 71; 2) Lee McAngus, 80; 3) David Cosgrave, 82; 4) Stan Petito, 85; 5) (tie) Alan Fisher; Jeff Pifer, 90; 7) Paul Marshall, 91; 8) Mark Mayo, 93; 9) Juan Botero, 95; 10) Greg Wheeler, 106; 11) Scott Siebert, 109.
Championship flight -- 1) Terry McAngus, 80; 2) Teresa Fisher, 83; 3) (tie) Cathy Shuttleworth; Jamie Berge, 87; 5) Connie Johnson, 88; 6) Cecilia Hopper, 91; 7) Tonnette Jackson, 92; 8) T.C. Amburger, 99. First flight -- 1) Shelley Smith, 89; 2) Dab Mitchell, 93; 3) M. Elaine Hollier, 94; 4) Hanni Kozler, 97; 5) Cathy Garrick, 98; 6) Santina Meath, 99; 7) Deborah Affinito, 101; 8) Sue Much, 110; 9) Debbie Hulen, 114; 10) (tie) Debra Reischke; Paula Fields, 116.