SUGAR GROVE –áMom mentioned something about them having homework to do, but Kaneland brothers Josh and Lucas Pehl were focused on something else – a chipping competition with teammate Hagan Rank.
Apparently, having just won Monday’s Interstate Eight Conference boys golf title at Bliss Creek in Sugar Grove wasn’t enough for the three Kaneland Knights.
“I always like to do competitions against my friends, like this chipping thing right now,” Rank said. “Whenever I play with my friends too, I always try to beat them and they try to beat me and I think that pushes us to new levels.”
Kaneland finished 13 strokes in front of runner-up Morris, 298 to 311. Ottawa was third with a 316 and followed by Sycamore (352), LaSalle-Peru (355), Plano (362), Rochelle (378) and Sandwich (396).
Josh Pehl, a junior, was medalist with a 73 while Lucas Pehl and Rank tied Ottawa’s Jonathan Cooper for second with 74s.
At 1-under midway through, Josh Pehl battled a few rough holes and finished strong.
“Near the end I had a birdie and I don’t want to say I clutched up, but I clutched up,” he said. “I was errant with the drive, but my ball striking saved me today. I hit a lot of greens and made a couple putts.”
Playing in his final conference meet, Lucas Pehl didn’t match the 69 he fired as last year’s medalist, but still played really well.
“It got a little dicey when the rain started, but I just grinded it out,” he said. “I knew we needed my score and I wanted to win again like I did last year, but it just didn’t happen today. I played pretty well. My short game was pretty good, my irons weren’t great, but everything else was good.”
That probably boded well for the post-round chipping battles.
“People are heading home, going to bed and resting up and we’re going to stay out here for another 30 minutes to an hour,” Lucas Pehl said. “We just want to get better and it’s just fun. When you find good competition and friends that love to play like this it makes golf 10 times better than it already is.”
Morris received strong performances from Matt Lawton (75), Nolan Washburn (77) and Eric Peterson (78) to place second as a team.
“I played pretty well with no birdies so I was limiting the bogeys,” Lawton said. “That was pretty important for me. I didn’t have to take out the driver too often which I think helped me.”
As a senior Washburn has been trying to enjoy all of his final high school season so a strong performance like this has him and the Redskins primed for a strong finish.
“It’s been a short season, but it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve played pretty well,” Washburn said. “My round went well. It was hard on the back, but the front I went even so that was good.”
If you watched Jonathan Cooper’s round (98) as a freshman at Bliss Creek a year ago, you never would’ve guessed the Ottawa sophomore would be tied for second place today.
What a difference a year can make.
“I remembered the score and I remembered the holes and I knew I could shoot a good score,” Cooper said. “It was a really bad round last year so I was pretty happy today. I made a five-foot putt on the fourth hole that was sliding and that gave me confidence for the rest of the round.”
Drake Kaufman tied for eighth with a 78 and Drake Stoudt had a 79 for the Pirates, who had a season-best 18-hole round.
“We showed up today and played really well and anytime you can get three of your top scores in the 70s it’s good to see,” Ottawa coach Keith Budzowski said. “They went out and saw they could shoot this low so their confidence should be absolutely high going into the regional next Tuesday.”
Sycamore’s Evan Borowicz led the Spartans with an 86.
Plano’s Mason Accidentale considers golf more of a hobby and his third sport so he was fine with his team-best 87.
“I didn’t play that well last year (98),” Accidentale said. “I shot a little worse today than usual but better than last year. It was a little wet outside and the greens were spinning some.”
Sandwich was paced by Jacob Heilemeier’s 90.