LA SALLE — The Streator Bulldogs opened their 2018 season at the Prep Tour-Illinois Junior Golf Association High School Showcase here Friday at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club.
The event, which began last year, featured 16 teams and 96 players from some of the top programs in Illinois.
Streator and coach Dustin Masley saw mixed results after the scorecards were turned in. Senior Cole Holloway led the Bulldogs with a 7-over-par 79, with sophomore Jacob Magana right behind with an 80. Freshman Cooper Wahl finished with a 100, junior Austin Fairall a 109 and junior Trevor Sterling a 111. Standout Grant Mascal had to withdraw with four holes to play.
“It was definitely an honor to be asked to participate in this event,” said Streator coach Dustin Masley. “Unfortunately for Grant, he had to withdraw, but Cole and Jacob had very encouraging rounds today even though I’m sure they’ll tell you they both left some shots out there. We also had freshman Cooper Wahl shoot pretty well in his first varsity event and first time playing this course.
“This is a tough course, and today a very tough field, and I wish we would have had a little better showing, but this was a good start for us to build on. I think the kids saw what it takes to become an elite team with the teams that were here today.”
Hinsdale Central won the event with a 291. Lincolnshire Stevenson and Charleston each scored 296, with the former earning second place via a back-nine tiebreaker. Normal U-High’s Brevin Knight took home individual championship honors after recording a 3-under 69, while three other golfers shot 70.
“Really it was just an average round for me to be honest,” said Holloway, who was in a foursome that included the third-place individual finisher as well as a player that shot even par.
“I had back-to-back birdies on No. 1 and No. 2, but I also had a couple of double-bogeys after that which I just couldn’t get back from.
“I thought I hit the ball OK today, and to break 80 is always my goal, so I was happy with how I played.”
Like Holloway, Magana said he didn’t really feel much pressure despite the talent around him. Both players also thought the event will, without question, help them as the season moves forward.
“I felt I hit the ball pretty well off the tee, and while my iron shots weren’t the greatest, I was able to get up and down quite a bit,” said Magana, who shot a 39 on the front nine and 41 on the back. “I only ended up with one birdie, but I made a number of good putts to save par.
“I think today was a real confidence-builder for me. To come out here and play pretty well against some of the best competition in the state makes me want to continue to work harder at getting better.”
As for Mascal, the senior said that he felt discomfort in his lower back after a tee shot and even more so on his next swing. He and Masley made the decision to not risk anything more with it being the first outing of the season, even in as big a tournament as Friday’s event was.
“Last year’s event included the eventual team state champions from Class 1A, 2A and 3A, as well as the individual champions in Class 1A and 2A,” said Prep Tour director and new Illinois Valley Community College golf coach Sean Kennedy. “This year’s field had all those teams back, plus many other very, very good teams, so the competition was about as good as it gets.”