With the eyes of the golf world fixated on suburban Chicago starting today, Raymond Knoll had a starry-eyed experience of his own earlier this week.
"We took the whole team (to the Ryder Cup at Medinah) on Tuesday," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said.
"The way (the American and European team members) play the game is so inspiring," Knoll said Thursday shortly after ending his extraordinary DuPage Valley Conference golf days with his second individual title. "I try to incorporate what they were doing into my game."
Knoll, the reigning junior amateur state champion, never tasted defeat in conference with the Huskies' boys golf team.
The Iowa-bound senior was a member of four teams that have won 34 consecutive dual matches, and Bartlett Hills was the site of the Huskies' fourth straight DVC title.
Knoll parlayed 6 birdies into a 2-under 69, headlining four Naperville North players in the top five as the Huskies finished with a 298.
Wheaton Warrenville South was a distant second at 313, followed by Naperville Central (322), Wheaton North (332), Glenbard North (345), Glenbard East (360), West Aurora (361) and West Chicago (369).
Knoll had a familiar surname in his lead group: WW South sophomore Will Kelly, whose older brother, Ohio State freshman starter Tee-K, had countless showdowns with the Huskies' star.
Kelly overcame a second-hole double-bogey with three birdies in a four-hole stretch to tie Knoll at the turn with matching 34s.
The respect was as mutual as it was genuine.
"I love the Kellys," Knoll said. "I played with Tee-K all the time. I feel like we kind of fed off each other."
"(Knoll) is a fun guy to play with," Kelly said. "You learn a lot playing with him."
But Knoll inexorably created separation against the Tigers' underclassman, making back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to authenticate his medalist performance.
Kelly struggled slightly down the stretch to finish runner-up with a 74.
"Will had a great day," WW South coach Jimmy Selleck said. "He showed that he is focused and can play under pressure."
Naperville North monopolized the third through fifth slots behind the play of Sean McDonnell, Nick Harris and Braden Klaisle.
"(Golf) is kind of two different seasons," Hantak said. "We celebrate this (latest conference championship) tomorrow. This doesn't mean anything come Tuesday (at the Class 3A Naperville Central regional at Naperbrook)."
Naperville North will begin defense of its team state berth last year with an exceptionally deep and talented squad.
"Ray is probably the best player in North history and maybe even DVC history," Hantak said. "We're a team. It's not just one guy. Ray would be the first to say that."
Eddie Lieser, Jack Hawes and Scott Dunsire all fired 79s for Naperville Central; John Shadid and Kyle Tintera turned in the low cards for Wheaton North and Glenbard North, respectively.
Greg Ludwig and Justin Barg tied for low round for Glenbard East; Dino Parducci shot an 84 for West Chicago.
Blake Kaufmann literally played to his most consistent club for West Aurora.
"I tried to get to around 150 yards from the greens," Kaufmann said after leading the Blackhawks with a 79, the lone team score to break 90. "I was able to use my 8-iron from there. It's my favorite club. I am really confident with that club."
Kaufmann was a stroke away from shooting par on his inward nine (the front nine in the shotgun start).
"On the front nine I am a lot more confident," Kaufmann explained. "When we had the sophomore (conference) tournament here, I was 20 strokes better on the front than the back."
"I expected the best (team) score to come from Blake," West Aurora coach Jay Bauer said. "Based upon the scores this season, Blake is our best player."
The other seven West Aurora participants struggled.
"It was a not a good day for us," Bauer said. "They all shot -- other than Blake -- about 10 strokes above their averages."
Jonathan Hunecke, Daniel Newsome and Trent Jackson also contributed counting scores for West Aurora.