State champs Glenbrook North, Gordon, ace the course at state golf final

  • From left: Eli Myers, Issa Kuwahara, Andrew Choe, Robby O'Regan, Jason Gordon, Carl Gustin, Troy Nason and Mac Roth celebrate Glenbrook North's first boys golf state championship on Oct. 9 at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.

    From left: Eli Myers, Issa Kuwahara, Andrew Choe, Robby O'Regan, Jason Gordon, Carl Gustin, Troy Nason and Mac Roth celebrate Glenbrook North's first boys golf state championship on Oct. 9 at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington. Courtesy of Justin Gerbich

 
 
Updated 10/14/2021 3:40 AM

After the first round of the Illinois High School Association Class 3A boys golf state final tournament in Bloomington, the boys from Glenbrook North got a phone call.

Nick Hardy, who placed in the top-14 three times for the Spartans from 2010-13 and third as a senior, offered his advice.

 

"He said we have a great opportunity, we've just got to go out there and take it. And that's kind of what we did," said Glenbrook North junior Jason Gordon.

Gordon, and the Spartans, did what even the PGA Tour professional was unable to do.

In what was a two-horse race Oct. 8-9 at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course, Glenbrook North won its first boys state golf title by 3 strokes over New Trier. Gordon became the Spartans' second individual state medalist, following Brian Ohr in 2013.

The team as a whole -- Gordon, Issa Kuwahara, Carl Gustin, Troy Nason, Robby O'Regan and Eli Myers -- set a state scoring record with a two-round total of 575.

In a dogfight with individual runner-up James Pryor of New Trier, Gordon tied a Class 3A record with a two-day total of 137, 7-under par. He shot 68 the first day, 69 the second.

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"It is the best team we've ever had. Obviously, we got first," said 17-year boys coach Justin Gerbich, whose top previous finish was second place in 2019.

"But they rebounded from bad holes," he said. "They had that zero-memory mentality, like, It doesn't matter what I did on the last hole. I'll get over it and move on. And they did it all season."

For instance, on Friday Kuwahara was 2-over on the front nine, then shot 5-under on the back nine.

Or on Saturday, as New Trier rallied from a 12-stroke deficit to take a brief lead, Nason ran into a bad-luck 8 on No. 15. He birdied the next hole and parred the last two to help outdistance the Trevians.

"I told the guys, the tournament's won in the last three holes, every year," Gerbich said.

Yet they put themselves in position in the first 18.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Gordon and Pryor tied for the early lead each at 4-under, with Kuwahara third at 69 and Nason shooting 5 strokes under his average at 72. Gustin shot a 1-over 73. (Six golfers may represent a team, but four count in team scoring. The Spartans' two other first-round scores, 74 and 77, were still low enough to provide confidence entering Day 2, said Gerbich, who in the past has counted far higher scores.)

"I could just tell, everyone wanted to win," Gordon said. "We came in second place when I was a freshman, and we did not want that to happen again. Especially to New Trier."

Gordon, who like Pryor carded an eagle 3 on the par-5 No. 9 in his second round, hit what Gerbich called one of the best shots he's seen on No. 17.

A 160-yard par-3 requiring a player to clear a water hazard off the tee, Gordon hit his 9-iron about 10 feet to the right of the pin. The ball bit on the green and spun left to within about a foot of the cup for an easy birdie tap-in.

"For him to throw it in there like that was unbelievable," Gerbich said.

"That was a huge separation," Gordon said. "Then James 3-putted from about 30 feet and it gave me a 2-shot lead going into the last hole. It let me swing a little freer, with a little less pressure. But there was still a lot of pressure."

Juiced with adrenalin and a little tailwind, Gordon then launched a 340-yard drive on No. 18 -- he's about 5-foot-7, 140 pounds -- that led to one final birdie.

"I wanted to win as an individual, but more importantly, I really wanted my team to win, with all the hard work we put in," he said.

"The key to my success was staying patient throughout both rounds," Gordon said. "I knew I was going to make birdies, I knew I was going to hit good shots, but I was also going to hit bad shots. At the end of the day golf is one of the hardest games there is."

The Spartans returned Saturday night and upon turning onto Willow Street were met by a police escort back to Glenbrook North.

Gerbich returns Gordon, Myers, Nason and O'Regan next season.

"Rumor has it," he added, "we've got a really good eighth-grader coming up."

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