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Leach: Just short

Spring Valley junior Tyler Leach hits a tee shot at hole No. 13 on Thursday, May 4. Leach finished an even par for the day at Spring Valley Golf Course. Jalen Knuteson / Rivertown Multimedia

MADISON — The goal all year was, basically, to play perfect golf.

When there were imperfect holes, they could be made up for by consistent play on the rest of the round.

Until the WIAA Division 3 state golf tournament at University Ridge in Madison Monday, June 5, and Tuesday, June 6, Spring Valley junior Tyler Leach had pretty much done that. He hadn't played a round above par all season.

At state, Leach shot a 4-over 76 on both days of the 36-hole tournament and tied for third place just two strokes behind Mathew Higley of Eleva-Strum, who carded a 150.

"I'm obviously disappointed that the week didn't turn out how I wanted it to, but that's golf and that can happen," Leach said.

"He just did not get into a groove. He played OK, but not what he normally plays," Spring Valley golf coach Matt Ducklow said. "He still only lost by two strokes, so, for not having his 'A' game, that is pretty good."

Leach won player-of-the-year honors in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and won the 2016 state title by six strokes.

He came in feeling like it was his tournament to win.

"Winning the state tournament is extremely difficult and I think it made me realize how special it was to win it last year," Leach said. "It also made me realize that defending your title is extremely difficult, because there's that added pressure and expectation from everybody."

Leach has a summer full of golf ahead of him and decisions as well. The junior has garnered Division 1 interest from various schools.

Ducklow said he expected Leach to bounce back and use this experience to improve.

Leach shared that outlook.

"I still have the rest of the summer left to compete in tournaments and I'll use this as motivation to play well in my upcoming events," Leach said. "I learned a lot from the experience, though, and I think that I'll be better prepared for state next year and hopefully I can get it done next time."