Cousins finish 1-2 in boys 9-10 division
Despite losing the 9-10-year-old division of the Optimist Junior Golf Tournament at Blackhawk Golf Course by a single stroke, Matt Zimmerman was all smiles as he took some putting practice afterward with the champion—his cousin, Nate Farrell.
“I’m just happy we kept the trophy in the family business,” Zimmerman said.
“I was just happy that both of us got places,” Farrell said. “That’s all I really wanted.”
Zimmerman edged Farrell by one shot Tuesday (they shot 38 and 39, respectively), but Farrell’s first-day 37 was two strokes better than Zimmerman’s 39, giving him an overall score of 76, while his cousin’s total was 77.
“In the first round, I wasn’t worried at all,” Zimmerman said, “but once the second round started, I started to worry a little bit.”
Farrell admitted similar nerves, and both golfers struggled early on. But Farrell’s putter caught fire and Zimmerman’s game came together, starting with his drives.
“I just had to let it come back to me,” Zimmerman said. “First it was my drives, then my irons and then chipping and putting.”
Zimmerman was feeling awfully good when he buried a nearly-20-foot putt on No. 9 to close out his round. He then hit the putting green while waiting for the rest of the results, including Farrell’s, to come in.
Farrell’s uncle (Zimmerman’s dad), John, gave him some crucial putting advice on No. 2.
“He told me to have fun with putting,” Farrell said, “and to concentrate on the short putts and the long putts.”
That pointer came through, as Farrell rolled in a long putt on the fourth green and was steady with the flat face the rest of the way. He finished his day by crushing a drive down the heart of the ninth fairway and making a crucial par.
“I just try to get my drives into a good spot for my second shot,” Farrell said.
Both ball-strikers are excited to vie for the 11-12-year-old title next year. This time around, the crown went to Zach Morris-Cone, who shot a 37 on Monday and a 35 on Tuesday to win by 21 strokes with a 72. Carson Pope (93—49-44) took second, and Jared Filter took third (95—50-45), while his kid sister, Jessica, won the girls’ 9-10-year-old division with a 101 (52-49). Their big brother, Justin, was across town at Riverside Golf Club, where he took fifth in the 13-14-year-old group.
Jessica Filter adored her trophy, but the biggest prize for her was the company.
“It’s just so exciting to be out here with so many friends,” Filter said. “Like I get to play with one of my best friends, Maycee (Maslonka).”
Maslonka took second in the group with a 114 (58-56).
If you thought the boys’ 9-10-year-old group was a tight race, you should’ve been watching Savannah Ryder and Emily O’Leary duke it out for the girls’ 9-10 title.
It took two extra holes for Ryder (68-73) to outlast O’Leary (72-69). They both finished their two regulation rounds with 141 shots and some seriously knocking knees.
“I was extremely nervous,” O’Leary said.
Ryder, who relied on her drives throughout all 20 holes, bested O’Leary by a single shot on the second extra hole. It seemed like forever since they’d gotten under way.
“Before we started, I didn’t know her, and I didn’t know what it would be like playing together,” O’Leary said. “But once we got started, it was a lot of fun.”
Jacqueline Polglaze narrowly missed making it a three-golfer playoff, as she shot 142 (72-70), while Annika Butsow (144—71-73) and Kameron Blaser (154—78-76) weren’t far behind.
Ryder, with the biggest of grins, gripped her prize like a vice afterward.
“I love this trophy,” Ryder said. “It’s going in the trophy case.”
The 11-year-old O’Leary is excited she’ll get another crack at it.
“I’ll definitely be playing next year; the experience was just so fun,” she said.