Tipton's Koechner posts area's top score
After rain and snow at the beginning of the golf season, golfers found a much drier course for the Smith-Cotton Classic boys tournament on Monday at the Sedalia Country Club.
“I expected it to be a lot more wet than it was,” said Smith-Cotton golfer Taylor Mankin. “The ball was rolling a lot more than I thought it would.”
With poor weather and limited chances to get out on the course, Tigers coach B. J. Curry was just looking for consistency from his team.
“It’s really hard for us to continue to improve because we are young and we need that constant repetition,” he said. “Golf is about being consistent and hitting the same shot every time.”
Tipton’s Ethan Koechner tied for 26th with a 9-over-par 79, the lowest score among area golfers.
Jack Knoesel, of Rock Bridge, fired a 3-under 67 to win the individual title.
Tipton carded a 357 to take 16th place in the 19-school tournament. Smith-Cotton had a 365 to take 17th. Sacred Heart carded a 369 for 18th.
Park Hill South won the team championship, posting a 286.
The top two Smith-Cotton golfers were separated by one stroke. Jacob Carroll shot an 88 to edge Mankin, who carded an 89.
Carroll started strong with a par on the par-3 second hole.
“I was just hitting it solid,” he said. “I hit it right into the middle and then two-putted it in for par.”
Near the end of his round he made back-to-back pars on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th.
“Sixteen surprised me because usually I always make bogey or double,” he said. “I didn’t hit my tee shot very well either. I was way in the left right in front of a bunch of trees, but I hit that one over and two-putted in for par.”
Mankin had an uneven day with four double-bogeys and seven bogeys to go with six pars.
“At one hole my driver was perfectly straight and then my approach wouldn’t even come close,” Mankin said. “But I two-putted most of everything.”
Mankin got off to a slow start with double bogeys on the first and third holes and a bogey on the fifth. He bogeys the seventh and made par on the eighth to make the turn at 46.
“I just started to get a little more confident,” he said. “I stopped asking what everyone got, stopped looking at my scorecard so much, trying to keep it out of my head.”
On the par-3 15th, he put his tee shot at the back of the green on a hole where the pin was placed on the front of the green. Facing a long birdie putt, he got it within two feet of the hole, leaving him with a tap-in for par.
“I didn’t know which way it was breaking, I just aimed at the hole,” he said.
The Tigers got a 91 from Wyatt Foster. Tyler Steger led Smith-Cotton’s ‘B’ team with a 106.
Koechner’s day started with a par on the par-5 18th and a birdie on the par-4 first but he gave that stroke back on the third and he later ran into trouble including back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14.
“Irons were terrible all day and I could never get one that felt good,” he said. “I just couldn’t get comfortable hitting an iron shot all day and it hurt me.”
Koechner shot a 38 on the front nine but kept finding hazards on the back nine on his way to a 41.
Tipton’s Hayden Eichelberger shot an 84.
Sacred Heart was led by Patrick Hoffman, who shot an 84. His round included making par on three of the par-3s on the course.
“It was pretty good,” he said. “Once the weather changed from pretty cloudy to sunny, the scoring chances improved a lot.”
Hoffman was helped by his driver.
“I hit 70 percent fairways and that really helped the scoring,” he said.
James Lucchesi shot an 88 and Michael Hohne carded a 94.
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