Nothing seemed odd to either Stewart Druin or Colton Romine when they faced off in a playoff at the Lincoln Elks Country Club on Monday afternoon.
They’d done that all summer, competing against each other mostly for fun although, perhaps at times, for some bragging rights.
But when the Mattoon teammates walked to the tee at hole No. 1, a 387-yard, mostly straight, par-4, a little more was on the line – medalist honors in the Apollo Conference boys golf tournament. Both players had tied for first with 5-over par 76s.
Druin drilled his drive down the middle of the fairway, about 100 yards out, before hitting a wedge onto the green, about 25 yards from the pin. The sophomore tapped in his second putt to capture the title after Romine hit a drive into the tree line, then sent a shot into a bunker and bladed the next over the green.
But that was fine with the Mattoon senior who had scrambled on the back nine to help the Green Wave easily win the team title by 25 strokes over runner-up Lincoln at 317. Charleston finished in third, another five strokes back at 347.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Romine said.
Mattoon was also bolstered by Meade Johnson’s 79 and an 86 by Blaine Powers in windy, cooler, wet conditions.
“It played tough out there today,” Mattoon coach Bill Behrends said. “But the kids played well. They knew where they stood and they finished strong.”
The Green Wave took a 10-stroke lead through six holes, were ahead by 15 through 11 holes and padded its lead across the final seven holes.
Romine said he scrambled early, fighting to find his game. He bogeyed five of his first nine holes, capped by a six on the 432-yard par-4 No. 7 that features narrow fairways and a smallish green that put him at 5 over.
Lincoln’s Dylan Singleton, meanwhile, posted birdies on Nos. 4 and 6. When the Lincoln golfer made par on the seventh hole, Romine said he believed the defending champion had the title “in the bag.”
But Singleton then bogeyed four of the next eight holes, blowing up with a seven on the 142-yard 15th hole.
Romine countered by playing even-par over the next eight holes that included a birdie, bogey and six pars, including on No. 15.
“I figured if I could stay close to him,” Romine said, “I would have a chance.”
After a bogey on No. 16, he birdied the 328 yard, par-4 17th and made par on the 537-yard final hole.
Across the course, Druin was playing steady after a hiccup on his opening hole, a double-bogey on No. 7. After he later birdied the par-5 No. 18, another player told him he was only two strokes off the lead.
Said Druin: “I figured I had a chance for second place. Coach told me to finish strong.”
He said he knew he had two easy par-4s so he played a little more aggressively in order to get a birdie. He just missed on his final hole, the 404-yard No. 6, where he said he just burnt the edge of the hole before tapping in for par.
“He really turned it around on the back nine,” Behrends said.
Druin, Romine and Johnson all earned all-conference honors, as did Charleston freshman Preston Phillips, who shot 81 for sixth overall.
Senior Pierson Smith carded an 85 for 10th.
Both Jackson Becker and Peyton Daugherty are expected back to play in next Tuesday’s IHSA Class 2A Regional at Paris’s Eagle Ridge Golf Course.
“We struggled some today,” Charleston coach Scott Dow said. “It was pretty tough conditions early on. I am extremely impressed with Preston shooting an 81 and making All-Conference. My two players who had never played in the top six this season really played very well considering the challenge asked of them.”
Other Mattoon scores: James Shamdin 90, Evan Diedrich 99.
Other Charleston scores: Cade Landrus 90, Josh Will 91, Jaksen Braun 94, San Schuette 100.
|7||Brent Hansen||Mt. Zion||82|
|9||Jack Driscoll||Mt. Zion||84|