Kaneland golf coach Mark Meyer said his No. 1 player Will Marshall has a flair for the dramatic, and the junior showed that off Tuesday at the Class 2A Burlington Central regional.
Marshall capped his regional-winning, 1-under round at Sycamore Golf Club by chipping in on the 18th hole, redeeming himself for a chunked chip moments earlier.
Marshall blasted a drive about 320 yards on the closing hole, leaving himself only about 30 yards to the green.
"I had a rough lie," Marshall said. "I tried to loft it, caught it high off the face, chunked it a little bit. I was keeping it cool because I knew the lie was tough and it was a difficult shot, didn't have a lot of green to work with, over-finessed it.
"I knew next shot if I can make a good strike it has a chance of going in and that's exactly what it did."
Marshall used his 60-degree wedge to chip in for birdie, putting the finishing touches on a 4-under 31 on the back 9, and a 70 overall -- 8 shots better than the runner-up.
"He's just got that flair," Meyer said. "He can really make any shot on the golf course."
After 3-putting on the first and seventh holes on the front, Marshall didn't miss much on the back.
"Rough front nine but the back nine just absolutely, completely solid," Marshall said. "I'm hoping to continue that throughout sectional and hopefully state."
Kaneland freshman Ryan Milton followed with a 38-41-79, good for third overall.
"On the front I was hitting every fairway and every green and two-putting, making pars," Milton said. "On the back my speed was off on everything (putting). I feel like it could have been a lot better but I'll take it now."
That one-two punch, plus an 85 for Bryce Stair, led Kaneland to the team championship at 326. Aurora Central Catholic (338) and Sycamore (339) also advanced to next week's Grayslake Central sectional at Stonewall Orchard.
After a bit of a letdown finishing second to DeKalb in the Northern Illinois Big XII East, the Knights were thrilled to bring home the fourth regional championship in school history following previous titles in 1996, 2013 and 2016.
"The whole team came back and had a real good (back) 9. A good comeback for us," Meyer said.
"Bryce played solid. I think our 4, 5 6 would admit they struggled today. We're hoping they have a bounce back on Tuesday."
So is Marshall, who took fourth in state as a freshman, won last year's regional with a 4-under score, then suffered his worst round of the year at sectional and missed the cut for state.
"It's been driving me this whole year," said Marshall, who won the IJGA Player of the Year this summer at The Highlands in Elgin. "Missing the cut last year was just an atrocity and it has driven me to work harder this year. Fuel for the fire I guess."
Aurora Central Catholic's Nathan Turco played in the same group with Marshall and finished second at the regional with a 78.
Turco got a close-up look at Marshall's length off the tee. On the longest par 4 on the course, No. 8, Turco was 120 yards behind Marshall after the two hit their drives.
Like Marshall, Turco saved his best golf for the back 9. He birdied No. 13, started making more putts, and finished with a 42-36-78.
"The front 9 was really playing tough with the wind," Turco said. "The back 9 I started to feel more comfortable with the speed of the greens. The wind started dialing down a little."
Turco's effort led the Chargers to second place.
"He's got a real shot to make state," Aurora Central coach Mike Cowen said.
"We're very happy. I think our seniors played well. I think the younger guys were a little intimidated."
Jack Gehrke was next for the Chargers with an 81, fifth overall. Jevin Mueller carded an 87.
One key for the Chargers was sixth man Tyler Wiesbrook shooting a 92 including a 44 on the back.
"Tyler was massive for us because our 4 and 5 were struggling," Cowen said.
"Jack, he's really come on strong the last few weeks. Told him to stop shooting the 85s and 86s and get him down to the 81 area which is big for us too. He stopped making the big numbers. Missed in the right spot. Better course management.
"And Jevin did what Jevin does. He's consistent."
St. Edward freshman Tom McQueeny (85), IMSA's T.J. Ptak (86) and Vismay Vyas (87), Burlington Central's Jack Green (89) and Sean Larson (89), St. Edward's Oliver Inciong (89), Burlington Central's Anthony DiBartolo (91) and Michael Sernett (94), and St. Edward's Michael Mindykowski (95) all qualified for the sectional as individuals.