By Rick White
Not much bigger than the average Callaway driver, pint-sized Portales golfer Will Archibeque is adjusting to playing with the big boys.
Riding back-to-back birdies on the back nine, Archibeque fired a 4-over-par 75 en route to his first Sun Country Junior PGA 18-hole tournament title Wednesday at Clovis Municipal Golf Course.
In his first year in the 13-to-15-year old division, Archibeque routinely battles players bigger and stronger on the state-wide junior golf summer circuit.
He said he gives up 20 to 30 yards off the tee to most of his Sun Country playing partners.
“You have to just play your game,” said Archibeque, who will enter the eighth grade in the fall. “When I first starting playing this summer, I was trying to swing too hard and trying to hit with them.”
After a solid front side, Archibeque bogeyed three of the first four holes after the turn.
But a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and a tap-in birdie on No. 15 got him back on track. Both holes are par 5s.
“I hit my irons really solid today and I putted pretty decent,” said Archibeque, who has finished third three times in Sun Country tournament this season. “I made one putt of about 15 feet for par but I made everything with 7 feet.”
Brad Poyner, who plays nearly every day at Portales Country Club with Archibeque, finished second in the 10-player 13-15 division with a 79.
Archibeque said the daily competition makes them better.
“On any given day either one of us can win,” he said. “He beat me by a stroke (Tuesday).”
While Archibeque was putting together his career-best tournament round, Clovis High senior Travis Reid was fine-tuning his game for a pair of upcoming tournaments that serve as national qualifiers.
The 2004 Class 5A state champion shot a 3-under 68 despite a bogey on the final hole in his first and likely only appearance on the Sun Country tour. His round included four birdies and an eagle.
Reid recently returned from Dallas, where he worked with a instructor on his swing in search of more consistency.
“I’ve been trying to get things straightened out,” Reid said. “I’m out here trying to gain some confidence.”
Reid, who will play in the Westfield Junior PGA qualifying tournament this week in Santa Fe and a U.S. Amateur qualifier in Amarillo next week, said he could have scored much lower had he made five or six birdie putts.
Jordan Moore of Clovis was second at 1-over 72 and Trevor Ferguson of Portales third at 72.
In the girls 16-18 division, Whitney Coleman of Carlsbad took advantage of a errant tee shot by Clovis’ Mollie Peterson on the final hold to post a four-stroke win with a 79.
Playing in her first Sun Country tournament of the season, finished at 83.
“I really putted well,” said Peterson, who rolled in a 30-foot putt on No. 17 for a par before hitting her tee shot out of bounds on the next hole, which led to a triple-bogey 7.
“Playing with (Coleman) helped me a lot because she’s such a good player,” she said.
Points earned at individual tournaments go toward qualifying for the season-ending Sun Country championship tournament.