St. Marys sophomore Carter Bowman sailed through his first nine holes with a three-under par 33. He led by six shots over Van Wert’s Jake Brake and by three over Tyler Turnwald at the turn.
But Northmoor showed its teeth on Bowman’s final nine holes and put up quite a fight against the Western Buckeye League’s best golfers.
Brake and Turnwald both shot 75s to edge Bowman, who tied for third with a 77 at the Western Buckeye League Championship on Thursday afternoon to help Van Wert win another league title. Turnwald won a playoff against his teammate to earn the medalist honor for the match. Brake was named the WBL’s player of the year based on his point total from the season.
“It kind of gets to you after you find out you’re ahead and it just kind of gets in your head and it’s hard to come back from it,” Bowman said.
Van Wert shot a 326 team score to edge second-place Elida’s 328. St. Marys shot a 353 to finish sixth. Celina was fourth with a 344.
St. Marys’ Colin Burke shot an 86 to earn First Team All-WBL honors along with Bowman.
Brake’s and Turnwald’s senior experience showed down the stretch.
Bowman, only a sophomore, took solace in the fact that he’ll have two more chances at winning the individual WBL title for the Roughriders.
“Knowing I got beat by two seniors and having two more shots at this, I’ve got my confidence,” Bowman said.
Double-bogeys on the par five first hole and the par four seventh hole were the biggest blows to Bowman’s WBL title chances.
Bowman striped a perfect tee shot with his driver sixty yards past his playing opponents Brake and Defiance’s Josh Hubbard on the seventh.
But Bowman’s ball was in a brown divot. When he hit a wedge, he undercut the ball and it came up twenty yards short of the green. His ensuing pitch ran off the back left and he made a double bogey.
“I chunked it, then I thought I hit a great chip but it hit off the hill and rolled right off the back of the green,” Bowman said.
Bowman still had a chance to get into a playoff on the par three ninth to end his round. He needed a birdie to post a 75 and get into the extra holes. But Bowman’s tee shot sailed wide left and he his par putt rimmed out for a bogey and a five-over par 77.
Just before Bowman’s tee shot on nine, Brake hit a shot to within a two feet of the pin to complete his comeback and get into the playoff.
Brake pumped his fist as he walked up to the hole.
“I knew it was really close because it looked like it hit the pin,” Brake said. “I didn’t know it would get me into the playoff, but I knew that it would beat Carter’s (Bowman’s) score.”
While a course on the shorter end of the distance stick on the WBL’s rotation, tough pin locations and a breeze that picked up as the morning went along guarded the lakeside course and pushed scores into the 80s and 90s.
Golfers from around the league expected a course they could attack.
With pins tucked behind bunkers and along plateau edges, the course instead blindsided players like Van Wert’s Brake.
“It’s a short course,” Brake said. “But you have to hit down on the ball with the fairways here and it played tough.”
“Usually the course isn’t like this,” Bowman said. “They came out yesterday and changed the pins to be tough and the wind didn’t help at all. We fought off the cold in the morning and it warmed up in the afternoon. The greens dried out and got fast.”
Along with Bowman and Burke, St. Marys’ Kyle Kiefer shot a 91 and Matt Severt shot a 99. Stephen Axe had a 101 and Dirk Fenwick had a 107.