Boys golf: Lake Forest, Stevenson team up on top spot
Getting out of the Class 3A Warren boys golf sectional on Monday and earning a trip downstate this weekend demanded a very focused and specific mindset.
It was very close battle for the three team advancement berths and the 10 individual players.
It came down to a shot here, a shot there -- and avoiding any bad holes.
Lake Forest and Stevenson ended up with a team total of 296 to card the two best scores. The Scouts broke the tie with their fifth score. Both teams, along with Highland Park (298), were among the survivors at Bittersweet Golf Club in Gurnee.
Medalist honors went to Garrett Tighe of Jacobs, who won a one-hole playoff over Stevenson's Jackson Bussell. Both shot impressive 3-under par 69s on the 6,751-yard course. Tighe produced par on the par-4, 421-yard 16th hole, while Bussell had a bogey.
"I knew it would break, so I just tapped it in," said Tighe, a junior who recently committed to Iowa, of his winning 5-foot putt. "Not really any nerves. In the summer I had played in a playoff to win an Illinois Junior Golf Association event. I thought my putting was really solid, so that helped me out. I did like the greens."
Bussell started on the back side with a 36. He saved his best for last on the front nine, producing birdies on four of the first five holes.
"Coming in, I had a feeling I was going to play pretty well," said Bussell, who finished with 7 birdies. "I was hitting the ball well this past week. I had a good stretch of hitting my wedges close."
Lake Forest and Stevenson have gone back and forth against one other all season long, so it was no surprise to see it this close. The Scouts' Michael Seaman (80) finished 1 shot better than the Patriots' Alexander Kim (81) for the tie-breaking fifth score.
"That was our goal, not to make any double bogeys," Lake Forest coach James Matheson said. "We knew Jackson (Bussell) was going to put a great score, but they have some other great players as well. When you tee it up with Stevenson, you kind of know who is who, and who is your competition. Stevenson was a few groups back and we didn't know what was going on. It just all worked out."
Stevenson's other counting scores came from Conan Pan (74), Mark Noonan (76) and Matthew Schawel (77).
"I thought what we got was awesome," Stevenson coach John Rueth said. "My mindset is that I told them, we're going to make mistakes. We're not pros, and we're just going to grind it out. Just think about every shot, what you want to do with it and try to get par. You just have to accept you're going to miss some shots out here. Just play smart, that's what we talked about."
The rest of the field was tightly bunched, with Mundelein (317) fourth, Carmel (320) fifth, Jacobs (324) sixth, DeKalb (328) seventh and Deerfield (329) eighth in the 12-team field.
The Class 3A boys golf state tourney begins Friday at the Den in Fox Creek in Bloomington. Joining Tighe as individual state qualifiers are Jack Paeglow of DeKalb (72), Mundelein's Christian Loar and Fremd's Colin Robinson (both with 75s), Evan Myers of Carmel and Josh Peterson of Mundelein (77s). Belvidere North's Bennett Baker, Carmel's Michael Pelfresne and Dundee-Crown's James Anderson (78s) round out the group of advancing players.
There was a four-way playoff for the final qualifying spot. Three of those competitors advanced after the first playoff hole.
Earning the state berth meant a lot to Fremd's Robinson.
"It was having a lot of mental toughness," said Robinson, who missed making state last year by one shot. "I thought the course was in good condition, and I like target golf -- it fits my game a bit, so I like it. I just wanted to stay in there and grind it out."