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Peru golfers, Beck look to go one step further at Warsaw Regional

BACK AGAIN: North Miami’s David Beck shot 82 at last year’s Warsaw Regional and earned a spot back in the event this year after winning one of two spots in a playoff. Peru also returns as a team to Stonehenge, looking to improve on last year’s 17th-place finish.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

The next step in the postseason procession for golfers from Peru and North Miami is Thursday’s Warsaw Regional as the Tigers and David Beck tackle Stonehenge GC for a chance to advance to the IHSAA Boys’ Golf State finals.

Play begins at 8 a.m. with Peru playing with other regional qualifying teams while Beck will be paired off with other individual qualifiers in the tournament.

The 6,821-yard par 71 course has been the final stop for players the past several years with Peru’s Cameron Smith the last player to make the finals in 2014, finishing in a tie for 63rd as a junior.

The Tigers advanced as a team to the regional last season, finishing 17th overall on 344, led by T. Fred Eddy with a round of 82.

Eddy, along with Corbin Robison (84) and Trevon Crowe (91), return with regional experience that would be important to the team’s performance according to Peru head coach Clint Mathews.

“It’s big because (Stonehenge) is a course we don’t play very often,” Mathews said when asked about the importance of having several players who played in last year’s regional. “For Jake (VanBaalen) and Kash (Bellar), Tuesday is the first time they’ve seen the course.

“Getting reps in on the course is important, as is learning about the speed of the green and how shots react in and around the green. Those will most likely be different than what they are here.”

Around the green was area Peru golf sectional medalist Bellar said was a problem during the sectional.

“I drove the ball well and had good approach play,” Bellar said about his sectional round. “The short game fell off a bit at the end but all-in-all, I didn’t play too bad even if a couple of shots did get me.”

Mathews was looking for improvement from the players on the green during a practice round held on Tuesday.

“We’re going to put a little extra emphasis on puts in the four-to-eight foot range,” Matthews said. “We were weak there (Monday) it was frustrating losing by three shots knowing how many short putts we saw go by.

“After our practice round (Tuesday), we stopped by the putting green and did a little extra work there to tidy up for Thursday.”

Bellar was eager to get his practice round in after the sectional, adding the things he knew about the course made him more interested to play it.

“I’ve heard Stonehenge is a lot firmer that Rock Hollow is,” Bellar noted. “I’m looking forward to that as that means a little more distance on the drives.

“All-in-all, I like firm courses, so I’ll probably like it. I’ve walked the course and I like the layout of it.”

With improvement around the green and fewer mistakes, Mathews said the Tigers had a good chance of doing big things Thursday.

“We’ve got to avoid penalties,” Mathews said. “Penalties and missing putts have plagued us this year.

“Our best round of the year, up at Tippecanoe Country Club, they had zero penalties. We’re taking a few too many penalties and watching too many putts go by, so if we take care of those two things, we shoot a much better number.”

Beck, meanwhile, also shot 82 on the course as a junior but was not certain after Monday’s round that he’d even be playing Thursday.

“The front nine was good but the start of the back nine was a struggle,” Beck said about his sectional round. “I didn’t think I had a chance and left the course for a while but Doc texted me and he said I had a chance.

“On the playoff hole, I hit a bad tee shot but recovered for a bogey, which ended up being the best score.”

North Miami head coach Doc Troxell said the surprise of being in contention was replaced by nervous energy that Beck was able to power through in the playoff.

“We needed David to relax,” Troxell said. “It was pretty nerve-racking sitting and waiting as the scores came in.

“He pushed the ball on the playoff hole on No. 1 but was still able to come down with a bogey. It was an awesome day for the young man.”

Troxell said Beck would get a practice round in on Wednesday and understood what he needed to do to give himself a chance of putting up a good number.

“David realizes what he has to do,” Troxell said. “The regional is a different ball game and a lot of the boys that advance to the regional aren’t just seeking the green but seeking the pin.

“He knows that going in this time. He knows the course as he’s played it before and he’ll have a pretty good attitude going into it.”

Beck added his performance needed to be better than Monday but was up for the challenge.

“I hit a lot of good shots (Monday) but made too many mistakes,” Beck said. “You can’t make those kinds of mistakes at the regional.

“It’s a long and fast course so I need to be aggressive when I can, lay off when I need to and hit drives straight. My goal this year was to get back to the regional, which I’ve done, so now I want to try and make it to state.”