As the end of up-and-down season neared its end, Blue Springs South’s Jack Steinbeck picked a great day for his best round of 2014.
The Jaguar junior carded a 3-over-par 75 during Monday’s Class 4 sectional tournament at WinterStone Golf Course to earn one of the 12 individual qualifying spots for next week’s state tournament at The Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau.
Steinbeck will be joined by South classmate Kyle Barbee, who carded a 77, as well as Lee’s Summit North senior Keaton Black who fashioned a 73, tied for the day’s fourth-best round.
Another South player, Ryan Drake, and Truman’s Brian Billings were among the group of five who finished a stroke off the state-qualifying cut with an 81.
With Steinbeck, Barbee, Drake and Bryan Hanneman (86), South had the fourth-best team score Monday (319), even though it was not one of the four teams to advance from districts.
Though South coach Ted Linke certainly would have liked having three state qualifiers – knowing Drake could point to several costly moments in his round – he applauded his team’s season-long progress. A whole new varsity squad finished the season ahead of a team that it had finished behind (Lee’s Summit West – 321) at districts.
“That’s golf. You can always look back with regret,” Linke said. “They just have to add consistency and stay away from high numbers. The boys are gaining experience and knowledge.”
Liberty and Rockhurst tied for the best team score at 297, followed by Park Hill South at 306, with Rockhurst posting the better fifth-golfer score by one stroke. Rockhurst’s Luke Henke and Liberty’s Sam Parrott tied for the medalist round of 1-under 71.
Steinbeck said he could sense a good round at hand, but tried not to think too much about qualifying for state until the scores were totaled. His steady driving, key on a course that tends to punish inaccuracy off the tee, allowed the rest of his game to flow.
“I just tried to focus on each individual hole,” Steinbeck said. “It’s been a pretty inconsistent season, but coming out today I was hitting my drives well, and that set me up to make pars.”
Steinbeck notched a 38-37 split, and he had scored as low as 75 just one other time this season, at par-71 Shoal Creek.
“I knew we could all score well,” he said. “I’m glad three of us (Jaguars) took advantage of it.”
Barbee, a move-in transfer from Oklahoma, said he wasn’t so sure of his state chances after 12 holes, but he played the final six at 2 under, making a 20-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th and a close two-putt for birdie on the par-5 16th.
“I could get up-and-down from some really challenging places, and I made some clutch putts to save down the stretch,” Barbee said.
“I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m glad to be able to go with at least one of my teammates,” he added of earning a state berth, not knowing at the time if Drake had qualified.
Black said his round was a bit nerve-wracking, remembering that last year he finished a stroke off the state-qualifying mark. He overcame two early bogeys, notching birdies on Nos. 8, 12 and 16 to get to 1 under before settling for a couple bogeys on the finishing par 4s.
“I was a little nervous the first couple holes, but I just focused on one hole at a time and tried to keep my mind off my score,” Black said. “I tried to limit three-putts, and my irons were pretty good today.”
Though the wind died down as his round went on, Black said the earlier breezes didn’t have any effect, simply because this season made him accustomed to such conditions.
“This whole year we’ve been playing in the wind, so I’ve been hitting a lot of knockdown shots,” he said.
Following Billings and Drake, Blue Springs’ Devin Hyman shot an 82. Black’s North teammates Ian Mathewson and Parker Davis shot 83, though Mathewson had a 36 on the front nine. Cole Ashby (86) and Trey DeRousse (94) also played for North, giving the Broncos a team score of 325, fifth out of six teams.
William Chrisman’s Jacob Becker shot 87, Blue Springs’ Jackson Koenig 91 and Truman’s Spencer Jones and Fort Osage’s Micah Lewis 92.