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Golfers make preparations for Plymouth Regional

SCALING: A year after finishing 17th in 2017, Peru moved up six spots to 11th at the Warsaw Regional in 2018 and will be looking to make an even bigger jump up the leaderboard in 2019 as the Tigers, along with Maconaquah's Mason Taylor, take part in the Plymouth Regional held at the Black Course at Swan Lake Resort Thursday.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

For a third season running, Peru will be taking its boys’ golf team to a regional with an accompanying player from a Miami County school also joining the fray Thursday.

The only difference for all parties involved heading to the second round of the postseason is the location as, instead of tackling Stonehenge GC in Warsaw, the golfers will be taking part in the IHSAA Plymouth Boys’ Golf Regional at the Black Course of Swan Lake Resort.

The Tigers will go in as one of five sectional champions this year, having taken the title off of Western, while Mason Taylor enters the field as an individual.

For Peru’s golfer, the round Monday was a welcome sight after missing out on the sectional title last season.

“It was a good feeling to bring the sectional title back to Peru,” Peru No. 1 Kash Bellar said about winning both the sectional and medalist honors. “Western won it five years in-a-row from what I read, so it was nice to beat them.

“I had a few loose swings Monday but nothing major. I played decent enough to not get into trouble and kept the penalties down to a minimum.”

“The fact that I helped out Monday made me feel really good,” Peru No. 5 T. Fred Eddy added. “Coaches often refer to June T. Fred as the best T. Fred and now that it is the month of June, I’m able to get things rolling for the team.”

“(Monday) went well,” Peru No. 2 Corbin Robison said. “I was two-over in 17 holes and 5-over on No. 6, so other than the 10 there, it felt good.

“A score of 79 was normal for me. The two important rounds were Kash and T. Fred with Kash shooting below average and T. Fred crushing his average by about 10 strokes.”

“Had a couple of bad holes on No. 7 and No. 15 that killed me but other than that, I played well,” Peru No. 3 Jake Van Baalen noted. “I was able to play the last three holes at 1-under, so I was happy with that.

“I told myself not to let No. 15 to get to me, to play like you know you capable of playing and I did.”

“The front nine was more of a struggle than the back nine,” Peru No. 4 Matt Kiefer said. “The front played tougher than it normally does.

“I was fighting on the back nine the whole time to stay around bogey golf, which helped me finish the round. The front was a struggle but the back was a fight.”

“I wasn’t allowed to talk to anybody, which was tough,” Peru’s Andrew Overton said. “I mostly walked around, talked with parents and gave a thumbs up every now and then.

“I’m in the lineup for the regional, so hopefully I put together a good round Thursday and help the team out a lot.”

Taylor, meanwhile, said after a 47 on the front nine, he had to buckle down and did so, shooting 37 on the back nine to nab one of the individual qualifying slots.

“The front nine felt pretty awful,” Taylor pointed out. “I knew I had to bounce back on the back nine.

“My coaches and brother (Jakob) helped me get into a better mindset, telling me I played better on the back nine. I love that side and was more comfortable playing on it.”

Stretching out over 7131 yards according to the scorecard, the Black Course, which is split between the eastern front nine and the western back nine, will see golfers navigate lengthy hole layouts with water a hazard on numerous parts of the course.

Maconaquah head coach Austin Colby said it might be tempting to attack the course at full speed but said a more pragmatic approach would work best in the long run.

“The first time you play a course, there’s no reason to try and overpower the course,” Colby said ahead of Wednesday’s practice round. “It’s not necessary to use the driver every hole though the younger players seem to want to do that more.

“The course plays about 7100 yards, which is fairly long for a high school tournament, but we don’t think Mason will need the driver every hole. If he uses his 3-wood to hit around 270-290 yards off the tee, he’ll be more in control of the round.

“He’ll also want to get used to the greens and how fast they roll,” Colby added. “Half the game is played on the greens and you have to make the putts to score.”

Taylor echoed the sentiment about the greens, noting he wanted the right feel with the putter before taking on a new course.

“Before every round, I putt on the practice green and once I’m comfortable there, I’m in the right mindset to play,” Taylor said. “I just need to play my game as there’s a lot of learning to be done (Wednesday).

“Playing in the regional this year allows me to get a feel for postseason golf. I want to enjoy it and we’ll see what happens Thursday.”

Several of the Peru players had also seen the course earlier this year on a practice round and noted similarities to Rock Hollow, which might give them a leg up during the round.

“It’s similar to Rock Hollow, so you can spray the tee shot a little bit but you still need to get it to the whole quicker,” Bellar said about the Black Course. “We all have similar playstyles in that we’re aggressive players and you can be rewarded for doing that but also punished, so we have to play smart."

“A couple of the holes have more water than Rock Hollow,” Kiefer added. “Whereas the water at Rock is off to the side, the water at the Black Course is in front and right down the middle, which is more of a challenge.

“If we play more consistent like we have been at Rock Hollow, this can be an easier round for us.”

“I’m a longer hitter and will play irons and hybrids off the tee,” Robison said. “It won’t play long but it will be key to have good position on the fairway.

“If you blow it left or right, you’re looking at bogey about every time.”

“The first time we played up there wasn’t great but the conditions weren’t great that day,” Van Baalen noted. “Hopefully, I’ll play better Thursday, which I think I will as I’m feeling confident.”

“It’s important for me, being my senior, but for the team that we can all pull a couple of good rounds together to get out to state,” Eddy added. “That’s what we’re all looking forward to and hoping for.”