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Ferris golfer Eric Ansett, who attends The Oaks Classical Christian Academy, led the GSL with a 70.75 scoring average this season. (Dan Pelle)

Ansett in driver’s seat

Saxons junior used winter workout to improve swing, add distance

With two trips to the State 4A tournament in his first two years on the Ferris golf team, Eric Ansett was already an accomplished golfer.

He wanted to get better.

Ansett, on the advice of swing coach Steve Prugh, began working out last winter with Brandon Blank, director of golf performance at U-District physical therapy and an assistant pro at Manito. The 6-foot-1 Ansett, who says he’s “super skinny,” has gained maybe 10 pounds since last year. He’s still skinny at 150 pounds, but the training sessions have translated into big benefits on the golf course.

“He’s a golf-specific trainer,” Ansett said. “I wouldn’t say I’ve gained a ton of weight, but I have more clubhead speed. Even the first time people saw me swinging the club this year they thought it was a ton more aggressive and faster.”

Ansett has gained 8-10 miles per hour of clubhead speed and about 30 yards of distance. He’s consistently driving the ball 300 yards, with accuracy, and the rest of his game is solid.

Ansett earned Greater Spokane League player of the year honors with a 70.75 scoring average, two strokes clear of his nearest competitor. He put together rounds of 69, 71, 75, 70 and 73 (the worst score is dropped) during GSL tournaments and followed that up with a 69 Tuesday at Indian Canyon in the first round of the District 8 4A Tournament.

“On No. 3 I was in the trees, but I had a perfect gap all the way to the green. I had a couple drives in the first five holes that were going into the trees and I got good bounces,” he said. “After that I got into a good rhythm and took advantage of the par 5s. I did make double on 16 (a 278-yard par 4). I hit iron on my tee shot, I didn’t get greedy (trying to drive the green), but I tugged it into the trees.”

He’ll carry a four-shot lead over Central Valley’s Mark Beck and Gonzaga Prep’s Michael Brutocao into Wednesday’s final round at Qualchan. The top six individuals qualify for state.

“He is just a student of the game,” Ferris coach Clarence Hough said. “He works so hard at it and it’s obviously something he wants to do out of high school.”

Ansett tees off with a strong support team behind him.

“I have supportive parents who are always there for me,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of work with (Manito pro) Steve Prugh. He’s amazing. Brandon has been a big help in just three months of working out.”

Ansett attends The Oaks Classical Christian Academy. The junior plays on The Oaks’ basketball team, but the school doesn’t offer golf. The family lives near Manito, where his dad is the course superintendent, within the Ferris district.

“I knew some of the Ferris kids before, through golf,” Ansett said. “I have a lot of friends at Ferris and a lot of friends at The Oaks.”

Ansett points to driving and chipping as his strengths. He wants to make more putts – a universal sentiment among golfers – and puts in added time on the greens.

“I’ve definitely been more consistent this year and I haven’t made many big mistakes,” Ansett said. “Putting is the thing I need to improve on the most. I feel really confident putting, but for some reason they don’t always drop.”

He works with Prugh on his putting and his swing plane.

“My swing plane is the most difficult thing to stay consistent because I’m tall with long arms,” Ansett said. “He gives me a lot of drills just to make sure I have a consistent swing plane coming down.”