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Ottawa senior Dane Lehr lines up a putt Tuesday during the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle. Lehr shot a 4-over-par 76 to win the individual title. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
La Salle-Peru junior Kyle Hanck drives the ball Tuesday during the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club. He shot an 88 to earn the final individual sectional berth. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Ottawa senior Dane Lehr has been struggling with his putting lately.
So he and his father, Rick, worked on that aspect of his game Sunday.
“We did some drills and that helped a lot,” Lehr said. “(We did) speed drills and lag putting. That’s big for me. (We worked on) short ones — making sure I keep my head still and get through the ball.”
The extra work paid off Tuesday.
Lehr shot a 4-over-par 76 at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club to win the individual title at the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional.
“It means a lot,” Lehr said. “It’s a good feeling to get to move on.”
However, Lehr was disappointed he won’t be moving on to the Freeport Sectional on Monday with the entire Ottawa team.
The Pirates, who qualified for state last season, carded a 342 to finish in fourth place — one spot out of sectional qualification — behind Dixon (340).
Sterling won the team title with a 332 and Rock Falls also advanced with a 338.
“It kind of stinks the team doesn’t get to go with me,” said Lehr, who will be joined Monday by teammate Ben Calkins and six other area players. “That would have been a lot more fun.”
Lehr opened his day with a 37 on the front nine before closing with a 39 on the back nine to win the title by a stroke over Rock Falls senior Andrew Tichler.
“My putting finally came through,” Lehr said. “I was finally rolling the ball better. I hit the ball how I have been, then the putting made (my score) how it should be.” Calkins shot an 86 to earn his spot at the sectional.
“Ben has just been steady all year long,” Ottawa coach Dave Wulten said. “Ben kind of sat in the background. He was playing so well I suggested moving him up because he’d been playing No. 5. He said, ‘No, I like it right here.’ He sat back and was consistently in the low 40s all year long. It’s an honor for Ben (to advance).”
Mendota also had two players advance in Jaron Robinson and Cody Phalen. Robinson shot matching 41s to finish with an 82, which was the second-highest individual advancing score. Phalen finished with an 87.
“My whole team put in a lot of time this summer, but I think they put in the most time, so it’s good to see your best players are your hardest workers and they’re getting rewarded,” MHS coach Brian Blumhorst said. “I think they just kind of played it smart. They played almost conservative. They kept hitting fairways and greens in regulations, and they just kind of grinded it out.”
Princeton is sending three players to Freeport in Zach Hicks (83), Ian Nichols (85) and Colby Robbins (86).
“To have three guys go is fantastic,” PHS coach Duane Price said. “We were hoping for a fourth score so we could get in the mix for the team score, but for the three guys who have worked hard all season, it’s fantastic.
“Colby got off to a little bit of a rough stretch through his first nine. I talked him through that situation and he obviously bounced back. Zach and Ian, they’re just grinders. … I know there’s stuff they want to work on and some shots they wish they had back, but the name of the game today is just advance.”
La Salle-Peru junior Kyle Hanck shot an 88 to nab the final individual advancing spot.
“Even though I didn’t pull out the best round that I’ve had, it’s still a good feeling to move on,” Hanck said.
He opened his round with a 40 on the back nine before carding a 48 on the front nine.
“I played really well on the back,” said Hanck, who credited his putting. “I started off and had some really nice hits. The last couple holes on the front I didn’t do so well, but I still qualified, and that’s what counts.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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