Billy Walker tops Kyle Irlbacker in playoff in Crystal Woods Open

WOODSTOCK – A few days before the McHenry County Junior Golf Associations’ two-day tournament at Crystal Woods Golf Club, Jacobs golfer Billy Walker had a conversation with his grandfather.

Walker’s previous best 18-hole score was a 71, and his grandpa wanted him to break that record. During Tuesday’s first round, he found himself 3-under par with five holes to play on the par-72 course, but ended up carding a 73 and a three-stroke lead in the junior division.

On Wednesday, Walker tried again to break 71, but put too much pressure on himself and ended up shooting an 83 that tied him atop the leader board with Kyle Irlbacker, who made up a three-stroke deficit to force a playoff.

“It was rough [Wednesday],” Walker said. “I came into the tournament with too many expectations. My grandpa wanted to see me get under 70, and I was a little mad that I didn’t do it.”

The two golfers headed out to the first tee to begin the playoff. Irlbacker led with two nice shots and made par, which forced Walker, who missed the green on his approach, to make a 10-foot putt to stay even with his opponent. The two headed to the second hole, where Walker finished the job by making another par while Irlbacker bogeyed.

Walker was able to stay calm during the two-hole playoff by asking himself what the Worlds No. 1 golfer would do.

“I try not to make the [playoff holes] more intense, so I calmed myself down and I asked myself, ‘What would Tiger do?’ “ Walker said. “All I wanted to do was to win and I wanted to get back those strokes.”

Walker and Irlbacker finished with a two-day totals of 156. Brandon Dahl was third after shooting 79-79, good for a 158. 

Jack Ramsett captured the boys senior division after going 74-74 and made up the two-stroke hole he entered the day with. Ramsett (148) was five strokes ahead of Tyler Ross (153). Matt Haussmann and day-one leader Paul Schlimm tied for third with a 154.

“I didn’t get to worried [about being down],” Ramsett said. “I just tried to stay as consistent as possible and kept doing what worked.”

In the girls senior division, Larisa Luloff won by eight strokes after carding a two-day total of 78. She entered the day ahead by one stroke but played a great round and continued to gain ground.

The girls play nine holes, which Luloff said can add pressure at times because there is little room for mistake. She three-putted on the first hole, which worried her a bit but she calmed down and was nearly flawless the rest of the way.

“If I didn’t three-putt that first hole, I could’ve gone under par,” said Luloff, a Cary-Grove junior. “It’s a little more serious when you only play nine, but I was hitting the ball solidly, so I was happy.”

Girls junior division point leader Sophia Archos escaped with the win after shooting a 100. Lauren Kalamaras (107) and Mia Belle McNeill (128) rounded out the top three.

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