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MENDOTA — Each year the Mendota Modified Ryder Cup at the Mendota Golf Club welcomes teams from around the area and foes from other conferences to compete in a 12-team format similar to the professional Ryder Cup.
This year, an unwanted opponent joined the ranks — wind.
Flags danced as if they were at a night club, electronics were used as paper weights and golfers had to adjust how they swung to make every shot count.
“The wind didn’t really affect us until late morning, when it really started to pick up,” Mendota senior Cody Phalen said. “We just hit our balls lower so it didn’t cut so much into the wind.”
The strategy worked well for Phalen and junior partner Jaron Robinson as the two combined for a medalist round of 74 in the two-man event in which golfers played six holes in different Ryder Cup playing styles.
“It feels really good to show how good we are at our home course and try to maintain the trophy from last year. Our team did do well,” Robinson said.
Rock Falls won the event with a score of 231. Ottawa’s 240 edged Princeton by two strokes for second, giving the Tigers third, and Mendota finished fourth.
Ottawa was led by the partnership of Dane Lehr and Blake Johnson, who finished with the fifth-best score of 78.
Johnson said the wind was annoying and made putting difficult, but the Pirates were able to overcome the weather-driven obstacles for a solid score.
Ottawa was aided by matching 81s from the team of Carter Piercy and Connor Soenksen as well as Ben Calkins and Luke Long.
“As a team, it seemed like every time one of us made a mistake, the other one was there to back him up,” Lehr said. “We worked well as a team because our strengths were different. He is a good putter and I’m a good ball striker. We meshed well.”
Before the Pirates handed in their score, Princeton was second with a 242. PHS coach Duane Price was proud of his team’s performance but knew it had a chance of falling to third because of Ottawa.
When PHS officially slid to third, Price said of course he would have liked to finish a place higher, but the standings didn’t really matter because his team is improving and becoming more consistent heading into conference play.
Zack Hicks and Ian Nichols led the Tigers with a score of 75, which tied for second with a pairing from Rock Falls.
Also for the Tigers, Colin Pierson and Miles Rose shot an 83, while Colby Robbins and Derec Roberson added an 84.
“Our leading group of Zach Hicks and Ian Nichols did very well with a 75, and we knew they were our leaders from the start,” Price said. “We tried to play it out so we’d even out our squad. We put our three-man with out five-man and our four-man with our six-man and it looked like our strategy paid off. We put our one and two together and spread the wealth of the rest of our talent on our team.”
Kewanee finished fifth with a score of 251 and St. Bede’s score of 256 gave them sixth place. La Salle-Peru and Hall both finished with a 258 for seventh place. Putnam County came in ninth with a 287 and Bureau Valley was tenth with a 309.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @NT_LaChance.
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