WATERVILLE — Cody Pellerin remembers last year’s individual state golf championships, and the memories aren’t fond.

“I choked last year,” Pellerin said with a sheepish grin.

Pellerin shot an 86 at that tournament last year, and he is out for redemption this fall.

The individual state championships are Saturday on the Tomahawk Course at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

Pellerin has encountered difficulties and success at the course. Last week at the team state championships, Pellerin shot an 84, which tied him for 12th in Class B. Erskine’s Connor Paine had the top score with a 74.

But Pellerin also turned in one of his best rounds at Natanis when he shot a 75 at the Sept. 26 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference qualifier, sharing the top score with Sam Smestad of Nokomis.

“I was playing really well,” Pellerin said. “It was one of those rounds where I was feeling like, ‘Wow, I’m swinging nice’ and I can hit every shot. Every round, there’s always that one golf shot that’s bad, but you have that luck, and I did. I had a ball that went off a tree and back into the fairway. That was my one bounce of the day. But that’s when you know that a good round is happening.”

“When you go into state’s, and you’re on that first tee, it’s pretty nerve-racking,” Pellerin continued. “People are watching you, and you’re like, ‘I’ve got to play really well.'”

Pellerin said his best 18-hole total is a 71. He’s hit even par at Natanis before — though on a modified course — with a pair of 73s at the beginning of the year.

Not bad for someone who took up the sport just four years ago.

Pellerin was introduced to golf in eighth grade by his grandfather, Bob Cosgrove. Golf was a lifelong love for Cosgrove, a love that he hoped to pass on to his grandson.

“It was his favorite thing to do,” Pellerin said. “He was just like, ‘I want you to play golf throughout your life’ because it’s a sport you can play (through the years).”

Pellerin continued to play golf recreation ally into high school, but played football for the Purple Panthers as a freshman and sophomore. Entering his junior year, he switched to golf. Cosgrove died in 2014 and didn’t get the chance to see his grandson’s game grow.

“He passed away during hockey season,” Pellerin said. “It was tough. I still played that next game, the next day, it was really just for him.”

Pellerin is a multi-sport standout at Waterville. He’s a member of the hockey team that has won back-to-back Class B championships (Pellerin scored 10 goals and had 22 assists last year). He’s also had success on the baseball diamond, as he was selected for the Maine Underclassman All-Star game last June at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.

Pellerin has helped a Waterville golf team that has enjoyed some success over the past two seasons. The Purple Panthers went 9-3 in the regular season and finished third at the Class B championships with a score of 346 — just three shots back of runnerup Nokomis (343). Cape Elizabeth took the title with a score of 319.

“We beat Erskine to start off the season, which is the biggest win we could have,” Pellerin said. “Gardiner was a big win, and then to beat them later on (during the season), that was a pretty good part of our season. Our goal this year was to beat Erskine, which we did in the state match, too.”

Erskine — which won the Class B title last season — finished fourth last weekend with a score of 351.

Pellerin entered this season looking to find consistency in his drives.

“My driver was really struggling,” Pellerin said. “From going to baseball, right as soon as I got into (golf) season, I was hooking my driver. I really needed to change that up. I went on YouTube, looked up videos, went out to the (driving) range. By the end of the year, I finally figured it out.”

Pellerin found that his club was too high in his backswing, forcing him to chop at that ball on his follow-through.

“It was hard, and I was getting frustrated,” Pellerin said. “My scores during the (season) weren’t that special, because I was really struggling with the driver. I had to use the 4-iron off tees, just to be safe.”

He fought through the issues with his driver, finding success as the season moved along.

“We had a match, I think the second-to-last match (of the season), it came around then,” Pellerin said. “I was very happy, because you really want to start progressing and getting better at the end of the year. You want to play your best golf at the end of the year. I found it about two matches before the qualifier, and ever since then, I’ve been pretty good.”

Pellerin said his biggest challenge Saturday will be clearing some mental hurdles.

“This year, I am definitely a little more confident,” Pellerin said. “I should go into this pretty relaxed. You get past the first tee, past the first hole, I’m set. My goal is to par the first hole, and I’m good for the rest of the round.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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