BUHL — Whether it’s the ball in his hands or a putter, Kade Crossland doesn’t want anyone other than him dictating the fate with everything on the line.
“I want to be that guy in the clutch situations,” Crossland said. “I’m just used to that.”
When the basketball fell to Crossland in the final minute of Buhl’s championship win in March, there were few of those in the know who didn’t know he was about to put the Indians ahead for good. Similarly, as he stood over an 8-foot putt to win his second individual 3A state golf championship earlier this month, there wasn’t a lot of doubt over whether he’d make it.
It’s the stuff the 2014, and now two-time, Times-News male golfer of the year has been preparing himself for his entire life.
“Sometimes me and my friends screw around, like ‘this putt is to win The Masters,’ and stuff like that,” Crossland said. “I just took some extra time to read it, even though I know these greens really well, and I felt good about (the chances of) making it.”
Crossland wasn’t as optimistic of chances a couple of hours before that moment. Making double-bogey on No. 11 to fall two strokes behind after starting the day with a three-shot lead, he started to think it wasn’t his day and maybe it would instead be Hayden Eckert who would finish the season sweep: Eckert or Crossland at least tied for the low round in every event Buhl entered in 2014.
“I could have given up there, but I’m glad I didn’t,” he said. “I told myself if I kept going, played better, maybe Hayden would make a mistake — which he didn’t.”
With those two dominating the scene all season long, it was perhaps fitting that Crossland went birdie-birdie-par on the closing holes to catch Eckert at even par and force a playoff between Buhl teammates.
And in the same way he hauled himself back in to the championship race the few holes prior, Crossland seized the title when he managed a seemingly impossible situation — tee shot hooked into the water hazard, awful lie on the ensuing drop, shanked third shot into the opposite rough — into par when his fourth shot from 176 yards out landed eight feet from the pin.
“I knew I hit it good,” Crossland said. “I just watched, because I wasn’t sure how good I hit it. I was just trying to get it on the green and run it up a little short, but it was even better than that.
“I had almost the same thing happen in the club championship (same hole, same course), where I hit my tee shot in the water and still made par. I knew I could do it.”
Crossland and his teammates have made the most of the last two seasons. They’ve won two golf titles, a basketball title, and Crossland got his second individual state championship to leave Buhl as a five-time champ, and a legacy sits now for the group of juniors-to-be to chase down.
“I was looking forward to that younger group getting to high school since I was a sophomore,” Crossland said. “I knew we were going to be good in a lot of things.”