By Kyle Daubs

It’s been a roller coaster season for Preston Phillips. He won’t deny that. 

As an eighth-grader, Phillips placed ninth in the state golf tournament. Then, he finished his freshman year as an unofficial state qualifier. Heading into his sophomore year, he had many expectations, but the season has featured its ups and downs in that regard. 

Phillips was hoping to win the Apollo. That didn’t happen. Heck, Phillips wasn’t even the first qualifier from Charleston to move on from the Regional when he finished behind teammate Josh Will by five strokes. 

Every journey has highs and lows, but Phillips was able to conquer the adversity and shoot a score of 77, which was the fourth-best state qualifying individual at the Class 2A Effingham Sectional and advance into the IHSA state golf tournament. 

“I started my season out a little rocky in the beginning of the year and I’ve worked hard,” said Phillips. “Overall, I’ve had some highs and lows but this year was good for me and there is still work to be done.”

Phillips said that he felt “strong” during the front nine at the Effingham Country Club, but it was his finish that got him over the top. 

“I started strong on the back nine,” said Phillips. “I was feeling good and ended up even on the back. On the front nine, I was doing good until the last three holes gave me hardship and I was lucky I had my coach there to get me through it. Overall, there was a lot of competition there and I was glad to make it out.”

CHS coach Scott Dow is glad that Phillips fulfilled his goal. 

“Making it to State has been a goal for Preston this season,” said Dow. “As a freshman, there was no State tournament. I am so proud of him for all the hard work he has put in to accomplish his goal. He has been a leader on the team this season and has been our most consistent golfer. I definitely knew he had the talent to make it to the State Tournament, but that doesn’t guarantee you will make it. I think as a sophomore it is a great achievement. I hope he relaxes and plays well at State.”

The state tournament will be held at D.A. Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University in Normal. Phillips hopes to shoot well enough on Friday to put himself in a competitive position for Saturday. 

“I hoped to be focused and go low to make it onto Saturday,” said Phillips.