Boys golf: Lake Forest wins Zion-Benton regional, advances with Libertyville and Warren
The occasional praise was just about the only sound heard at the Class 3A Zion-Benton boys golf regional at Shepherd's Crook Golf Club on Wednesday morning. Other than that, the rustling of the golden brown prairie grass and irons clanging against each other filled the dead air.
Lake Forest High School never even made a noise, and Libertyville never heard them coming.
"It just happened in about a 20-minute stretch," said Libertyville coach Sean Matthews. "We'd lose two strokes here and then Lake Forest would gain a stroke, and then we'd lose another three strokes and then we lost another two strokes, and it was just like 'wow, what is going on?'"
Lake Forest ended up on top at the end of the day, shooting a team score of 13-over (297), and while Libertyville finished with its lowest score of the season (298) and had two players in the top five.
Lake Forest won with consistency.
"We were kind of behind all day long," said Lake Forest coach Jim Matheson. "We started out on the front nine, and I know Libertyville started on the back, and the back definitely played easier today. So it was just a matter of surviving the front and getting to the back with enough confidence that you could still do well."
Meanwhile, with the focus on the three teams advancing to Monday's sectional tournament (Warren was the third continuing team with a score of 304), there was plenty of drama to go around for the individual players.
After the 18 holes had been completed, three more had to be played in order to determine a champion. Senior Alex Finger (70) of Highland Park was deadlocked with junior Tadgh Burke (70) from Lake Forest.
They replayed the 18th hole three times -- a showcase that included damage controlling chips and heroic birdie putts.
Ultimately, Finger came out ahead after the third playoff hole.
"I don't even know," Finger said about what kept him going. "I just kept playing golf and hitting golf shots and seeing where it goes. Hit the next one. That's all you can do."
It was all he could do and all he needed to do in order to advance to the sectionals as an individual.
Beside the top three teams that move on, the top 10 golfers from the remaining teams advance as well. The other nine include: Aiden Landes, Highland Park (74); Kalin Patel, Highland Park (75); Matthew Kisselburg, Mundelein (74), Miles Begg, Mundelein (75), Kirby Torola, Zion-Benton (78); Jackson Koenigsknecht, Mundelein (79); Erick Guzman, Grant (80); Brandon Hinkle, Mundelein (80) and Trent Pelli, Zion-Benton (83).