MARENGO – Huntley's Brad Spoeth entered the clubhouse Tuesday morning after shooting a 2-over-par 74 during the McHenry County Junior Golf Association's Marengo Ridge Open.
Spoeth, the points leader this season in the boys senior division, felt pretty confident in his score, but Woodstock senior Alex Ferguson felt at home on a course he plays regularly with his dad.
After shooting a 40 through the first nine holes, Ferguson turned it on and found a groove on the back nine and birdied four holes in a row, starting with the 13th hole. He shot a 3-under 33 on the back nine en route to a winning score of 73. Spoeth took second and Hunter Simonini (76) was third.
"It just felt really smooth," Ferguson said. "I was hitting my drives really straight and hitting greens, and my putting saved my game today."
Ferguson was about an hour behind Spoeth's group, and when he reached the 18th tee, he was 1 over and knew he could secure a victory with a par.
So instead of using a driver on the par-5 hole, he switched to a 3-wood for more accuracy. His approach led to making par on the hole and securing his first MCJGA win.
"I just wanted to play it safe," he said. "I just wanted to get that round in and keep this score. It's pretty cool."
The boys junior division also was close at the top. Cameron Karney, 13, earned his first MCJGA title with a 77, a stroke ahead of Jake Grabner (78) and two ahead of Billy Walker (79). They were the only three to break 80 in their division.
Karney escaped with the one-stroke victory with solid play in his final nine holes. He birdied two holes during his round, which helped him to a one-stroke lead heading into the final hole. After pitching onto the green, he found himself 24 feet from the cup. Make it and be victorious or miss it and force a playoff.
"I just looked it down and swung," he said. "It was one of the biggest shots of the day for me, and I sank the 24-footer.
"This is really big for me because it was downhill too, and if I didn't make it, it would have rolled all the way past."
Bailey Bostler and Larisa Luloff each carded a 44 for nine holes, and Bostler won a playoff for a victory in the girls senior division. They were followed by Gillian Young, who shot a 51.
Lauren Kalamaras took home the junior division title after carding a 46. Sophia Archos (53) and Kailey Lindholm (59) rounded out the top three.
The next MCJGA event is the Billy Vahldieck McHenry County Junior Amateur on July 10 and 11 at Boone Creek in Bull Valley.