Cats seek reward after wet, weird runSeptember 15, 2016
By BRENDAN PERKINS
Odds and ends about the local girls golf sectional, which tees off Saturday morning at 10 at Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper:
Jasper. Of the two other squads who will be golfing in the top group (the last to tee off) Saturday, the Wildcats surpassed Boonville by 49 strokes in last weekend’s Big Eight Conference meet and topped Gibson Southern by 10 strokes Monday at Buffalo Trace. The Wildcats have collected 15 sectional crowns overall (12th-most in the state) and seven of the last nine, interrupted only by Castle in 2011 and Gibson Southern in 2015.
The potential spoiler
Gibson Southern. The Titans slipped past Jasper by seven strokes a year ago and recently collected their fourth straight Pocket Athletic Conference title. They captured their first sectional title in program history last season and are the only other past sectional winner in the field besides Jasper.
The individual race
Gibson Southern may have the field’s best golfer in Kenzie Whitten. Beyond that, take your pick among Jasper’s interchangeable contenders.
In Jasper’s last seven outings, five girls have posted the team’s low score at least once, including Hannah Welp and Mady Horney. After nine holes in Saturday’s Big Eight meet, there was nothing to separate Maddie Wagner, Gillian Blessinger and Haley Schroeder, who were tied for the best score when rain washed out play for the day. When it came time to settle a medalist, well, “it was just totally up to fate at that point,” Schroeder said.
It wasn’t even in the hands of Wagner, Blessinger and Schroeder at that point, as tournament organizers decided to select a number corresponding to a hole, with the overall finish determined by who shot what on that hole. Wagner parred the hole, so she swiped first place, while Schroeder bogeyed it and Blessinger double-bogeyed it for second and third, respectively.
“We were all laughing about it though, because we thought we were going to play off (for medalist),” Schroeder said. “It doesn’t matter what place we came in, because we all knew we tied for first.”
The big highlight
No matter what transpires Saturday for Olivia Mundy, a regional qualifier last season, the Southridge junior has already tucked away a career highlight that even the most accomplished of golfers can’t match.
Mundy’s round in Monday’s match included an “albatross,” also known as a double eagle, for achieving 3-under on a hole. Mundy reached a par-5 hole at Boonville Country Club in a mere two shots — backing up her drive of about 210 yards with an iron shot of about 120 yards that trickled into the cup.
“I couldn’t really see the hole. I didn’t really see the ball go in,” Mundy said. “I just heard my parents (Brian and Vivian) kind of scream and clap.”
Mundy’s coach and teammates didn’t believe her initially when she spread the good news after her round. Teachers and friends got wind of it and Mundy was fielding congratulatory wishes the next few days at school for a million.
The National Hole in One Association has stated that an albatross is less likely than a hole-in-one. For an amateur golfer, the odds of a hole-in-one are 3,700 to 1. The odds of achieving albatross fame are 6 million to 1 as the NHOA has estimated, though some put the likelihood closer to 1 million to 1. (Still about as likely at the million-to-1 odds of being struck by lightning this year.)
“I could never do that again if I tried,” Mundy said with a laugh.
Saturday’s forecast includes an 80 percent chance of storms. Schroeder can merely smile and shake her head at the projection, since it’s consistent with the wet, weird season her team has experienced.
Jasper has had three 18-hole invitationals either shortened or wiped out completely by weather. The Wildcats finally had a dry Saturday on Labor Day weekend and were on their way up to the Bloomington South Invitational, but because of a last-minute change in tee times, they didn’t get to compete that day, either.
Those assorted messes have prevented Jasper from playing a full 18-hole meet since the first week of the season in early August. Still, Schroeder said she doesn’t see that being an impediment come sectional time Saturday as she and others try and navigate Buffalo Trace’s tricky spots that seem to be concentrated on the back nine.
Southridge’s Mundy finds the most diabolical hole to be No. 11, a narrow layout full of trees to swallow up shots. For Jasper’s Schroeder, her hiccup sometimes comes at 13. There, she focuses on staying down on the ball and not raising up, so as to get enough air to clear the lake on the front side of the green, where Schroeder said she’s lost too many balls to count. “The water (level) has probably gone up from me,” she joked.
If that’s the only water that Schroeder has to encounter Saturday that’s fine with her, especially after parts of last weekend’s conference meet were played in a downpour. Across the board, others have coped with the same.
“We’ll play with a lot of teams, they’ll say their golf matches have been canceled,” Schroeder said. “I don’t know. I don’t think the weather likes golf season very much. Hopefully it starts getting better here in the next two or three weeks.”
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