NLC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP: LUNG, PANTHERS PREVAIL
StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Saturday, May 19, 2018
WARSAW – NorthWood needed a pick-me-up, and got it from one source and from another unexpectedly.
No. 1 Panther golfer Caleb Lung was the cream of the crop, while No. 4 Jacob Falk had the round of his season. Combined, the two helped push the Panthers to a 320 team score, besting Warsaw by two to win the Northern Lakes Conference Boys Golf Championship.
Battling the early elements without showing much affect, Lung worked the Rozella Ford course like a pro. Firing a 36 on the front nine, Lung added a 40 on the back to finish at 76. That score tied Plymouth’s Chapman Yoder for top mark of the tourney. On the one-hole playoff, Lung’s sent his tee shot went well wide of the fairway and his second shot missed the green. Lung wound up with a bogey on the hole, but Yoder had his own troubles. Landing his second shot over the green and to the right, his chip rolled past the mark and off the green. The Plymouth No. 1 couldn’t get his second putt to fall, leaving a second playoff hole rolling just off the edge of the cup.
“When he missed his first putt, that actually put a little stress on me because I wanted to win on a make, not on a miss,” Lung said. “I was hoping he would have made the bogey putt so we could have went to another hole. But I guess I’ll take it.”
Added Lung of winning the team title along with the individual medalist, “It felt really good to see my four-man (Falk) come in at 79. That’s his best score all year. He’s been struggling all year, and to have him come in at 79 made my 76 feel better.”
Falk’s score was not only his best of the year, but very necessary. Falk tied Warsaw’s Luke Delp for third overall in the tournament, and an 80 from Sean Hogan matched Warsaw’s next-best score of 80 by Sam Yeager. However, the Tigers posted an 81 from Chase Byron and 82 from Jake LaLonde for its four scorers while NorthWood’s fourth was an 85 from Randy Kauffman.
With both Warsaw and NorthWood coming in at 6-1 in the regular season round robin, the tourney winner would get the title. To get that second score in the 70s was the difference, noted Warsaw head coach Rich Haddad.
“We talked about that, and we just had to go out and win today which means we win the conference,” Haddad said. “Instead of us backing into the conference, which is what would have happened, it required us to go in today in order to win it. We didn’t feel intimidated by that, we just knew that we couldn’t not play a good round and expect to back into it.”
The part unseen in all the action Saturday was actually a 168 shot Thursday night. Wawasee posted that score at South Shore Thursday night to defeat Warsaw by one stroke in their dual. The team loss, which moved Warsaw to 6-1 instead of what most expected to be 7-0 after defeating NorthWood earlier in the season, was crucial. As Wawasee fell way off the pace with a 370 Saturday, Haddad noted accountability is the only thing to point to in getting wedged out of the title.
“I look at today, and say that all of the guys were disappointed at their performance, I would say from top to bottom,” said Haddad, whose team shot a blistering 146 earlier in the week at Stonehenge against Northridge and Concord and won the Culver Academy Invite a week ago. “None of them played an awful round, I would say OK. They all felt they should have played better, and when it’s only two strokes that is the difference in winning it and not, they all are going to say my two strokes could have been found. All five guys, I’m sure will think about where they could have helped make up those two strokes.”
Wawasee’s 370 landed them in sixth overall, a little disappointing for coach Steve Coverstone after the team finished 4-3 in the round robin and had the Warsaw win to its credit. Zach Leedy paced the Warriors with an 87, Evan Dippon had an 89 and Dillon Drake finished at 91, but Wawasee then dropped to 103 with both Jared Krugman and Victor Tayagua carding the same total.
“Some of the kids came up here (to Rozella) last night and played pretty well. That’s the danger of coming up from the day before and playing the golf course, because you set a standard and then you have to come back and try to beat it. It’s hard to do sometimes.
“We got consistency, but the consistency was a little high,” continued Coverstone. “For us to get out of sectional, we need three scores in the low 80s and one in the mid 80’s, and that’s to even have a chance. I don’t know if that would get out. But that’s where we need to be.”
Concord and Plymouth tied for third in the championship standings with 326s, Concord getting the nod on the fifth-man score. Northridge (363), Wawasee (370), Goshen (375) and Elkhart Memorial (406) wrapped up the team ledger. Jake Eakins and Matt Auger of Concord finished in the top 10, Eakins tied for third at 79 and Auger tied for sixth at 80. Bryce Carmichael of Plymouth tied for ninth at 81.