LASALLE — Zach Hicks said preparing to play in the regional golf meet was crazy, because he knew “this could be my last day of high school golf.”
He made sure it wasn’t, playing his way out of the LaSalle 2A regional at Seneca’s Oak Ridge Golf Course as one of the top 10 individual golfers. The best part of it for him is he will go with teammates Ian “Shorty” Nichols and Colby Robbins.
“It’s nice to know I have at least one more tournament in my high school career, but it’s nice to know I get to spend it with my teammates, too,” he said. “I was talking last week if I make it out alone, it’s not going to fun. It means practices and bus rides are going to be more fun. It means a lot to have other people come with me.”
Hicks nailed down the third qualifying spot of individual golfers not from one of the top three advancing teams with a round of 82. Nichols (85) placed fourth and the freshman Robbins (86) was eighth.
“Obviously, we were hoping for a fourth score to get in the mix there for the top three, but for the three guys who worked hard all season it’s fantastic. I know it’s exciting for them. They’re thrilled,” PHS coach Duane Price said.
“I know they had some shots the wanted back. Hey, today, the name of the game is to just advance.”
The magic number turned out to be 88, secured by LaSalle-Peru’s Kyle Hanck. Ottawa senior Dane Lehr was the medalist at 77.
The three Tigers played a solid round of golf, each having their own holes they’d like to have back. Hicks’ came on his second to last hole when he four-putted to take a double bogey.
“I played alright,” Hicks said. “There’s always what-ifs in golf. A few holes I’d like to have back, but other than that, I’m getting my swing down a little bit better.”
Nichols had his own struggles with putting.
“I think my grandpa told me I had 39 putts. So basically half of my round was putting,” he said. “I had a lot of good striking. It’s just all putting. I should worry about next round. If I strike the way I did today and just focus on putting, it’d be a great day for sure.”
Robbins struggled some through the first round on the back nine, but bounced back strong for a 40 in his final nine to put the icing on his 15th birthday cake.
“I’m just excited I’m going. I tried to shoot a good score today,” he said, noting his teammates told him to just keep his head in the game and play his game. “I started off a little rough on the back nine, the second nine I came back to shoot 40 which I was happy.”
Price said his trio did well to keep their head in the game.
“I tried to warn the guys before they went out you just honestly never know what score its going to take to make it out,” he said. “Sometimes when you’ve got young kids who haven’t got a lot of experience at the regional level who think you have to shoot a 72 to advance and it’s just not the case.”
• Notes: After a long wait for the final golfers to come in, Sterling edged crosstown rival Rock Falls by one stroke for the regional crown. Dixon (340) was the final team to advance with Ottawa (342) taking fourth and Princeton (356) fifth. ... Mendota’s Jared Robinson (82) and Cody Phalen (87) advanced as individuals.