Senior earns Pats’ first all-state finish

From Herald Staff Reports

Sometimes the shots came, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes it was a grind and other times it was smooth sailing. Yet for Preston Van Winkle and Corey Teaford, Heritage Hills’ two individual representatives at the boys golf state finals, the two-day endeavor offered each the suitable supplement: a point of reference for a budding sophomore and one of the top scores statewide for a senior in his final round.

In his first appearance at the state finals, a 36-hole contest that began Tuesday and wrapped up Wednesday at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin, Teaford delivered back-to-back rounds of 78 to slide into a four-way tie for 45th, while Van Winkle furnished a pair of 73s to finish in a two-way tie for 10th place — good enough to make the senior the first golfer in school history to earn all-state honors. Van Winkle’s 10th-place mark was also the best finish in program history, besting Brian Murray’s 13th-place score in 1994.

Van Winkle

Second-ranked Columbus North exacted a sweep of both team and individual first-place finishes, as the Bull Dogs’ Christian Fairbanks and Michael VanDeventer each posted a 3-under-par 141 over the two days to share medalist honors, and Columbus North’s score of 591 topped No. 3 Westfield (602) and top-ranked Hamilton Southeastern (603) in team play.

Though Jasper failed to reach the state finals, Wildcat senior Cam Weyer also earned a nod onto the all-state team, marking the fourth consecutive season a Jasper golfer has been named to the squad.

For Van Winkle, the identically scored rounds were anything but mirror images. Day 1 provided an erratic four-bogey first nine holes before Van Winkle weaved together two birdies, an eagle and a fifth bogey on his second nine.

“After that front nine, I knew I was going to have to get it going,” Van Winkle said.

Wednesday offered “more smooth sailing,” Van Winkle said, as he pocketed a pair of bogeys, a birdie and a slew of pars, including eight in a row at one point and six consecutive to wrap up the round.

Similarly with Teaford, Wednesday’s second round brought about a bit more consistency, though a double-bogey on hole No. 18 — Teaford’s ninth hole of the round — presented a turning point that could’ve gotten things moving in the right direction.

After smacking his drive into the fairway, an “almost shanked” 7-iron shot left his ball partially in a water hazard on the right. No matter. Teaford plucked the ball from the murky lie before it landed “2 feet from being perfect,” he said. Instead, it came up a bit short of the green and rolled into a little valley from which he chipped past the hole and missed the putt.

“I don’t think that the golf gods would’ve let that happen,” Teaford joked about the third shot from the water.

Putts came at a premium Wednesday, but Van Winkle managed to can a 45-footer on the par-3 No. 3 during the round, the “only putt I made all round,” he said. Other times, like with his Tuesday eagle, Van Winkle didn’t even bother taking the putter out.

After bombing his drive and pinging a 3-wood shot a mere 30 yards short of the pin on the 539-yard par-5 sixth hole, Van Winkle used his wedge to finish the job.

“Right when I hit it, it felt perfect,” Van Winkle said. “It rolled about 20, 25 feet and I couldn’t exactly see the hole because it was an uphill slope but I just saw the ball disappear.”

Patriot coach Marc Schum, who watched the shot from above the hole, gave a fist pump and stormed down the hill with his arm raised.

“Schumy went crazy,” Van Winkle said with a chuckle.

“(Preston) may have even smiled on that one but I was too busy celebrating to see,” Schum said.

Though Teaford still eyed a top-25 finish entering Wednesday’s round, which he figured would have required a round of 74, the second day wasn’t void of a defining shot. After “basically (shanking) a 4-iron into the weeds on the right,” Teaford executed a flop shot that landed on the mere 2 feet of green with which he had to work on the par-4 12th hole. Two putts, one well-earned par.

“You give me 20 balls, I couldn’t do it again,” Teaford said, recalling the rescue swing from the weeds.

All told, the exposure can only pay dividends down the line, the sophomore said. Now at the midway point of his high school career, “I’ve got the experience I need,” Teaford said. “And for me, my game is only going to get better, so I expect to shoot some pretty good scores next two years.”

Perhaps the razzing is behind him as well.

After Teaford, Van Winkle and Schum played a practice round Monday, the window in Schum’s car wouldn’t close. The only reasonable solution?

“We just blamed it on Corey the whole week,” said Van Winkle, who, along with Teaford, fixed the window and used a pair of golf tees to keep it fastened shut.

After reaching the state finals as a team his sophomore year, Van Winkle said the return trip as a senior offered a couple times for reflection, although knowing he has swings ahead of him next year made the final round as a Patriot a little less sentimental. Nonetheless, the thought of it being his final round still seeped into his mind Wednesday.

“It was definitely fun, I’ll definitely remember it forever,” said Van Winkle, who will play at the University of Southern Indiana in the fall. “Just getting to state was one of my goals this year and getting to put it all on the line when I was at state, I’m just pretty satisfied with today and yesterday.”

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