ALGONQUIN – Heavy morning rains and a one-hour delay didn’t throw off Cary-Grove sophomore Kyle Irlbacker during Wednesday’s McHenry County Junior Golf Association tournament opener.
Irlbacker, who played in the last pairing of the day alongside Johnsburg freshman Grant Fisher, had the longest wait of any golfer at Golf Club of Illinois in Algonquin. The anticipation of teeing off last on top of a lengthy delay helped fuel Irlbacher to the best score of the day, as he placed first in the boys junior division with a personal course record of 76.
Irlbacker, who placed fourth in the top flight of the MCJGA Match Play at Boone Creek, started off the day with a birdie and eagle on 1 and 2, and added a second birdie on 13. He improved his course score from the conference season, when he shot 94, by 18 strokes.
Irlbacker’s 76 on Wednesday was seven strokes better than the next closest finisher in the boys junior division.
“It was probably more my driver that was working today,” said Irlbacker, who shot a par-35 on the front nine. “I just kept the ball in play and made some clutch putts. The first couple of holes were a little bumpy because of the water, but I just fought through it. After shooting a 94 in conference, this one is pretty sweet.”
The win moves Irlbacker into a first-place tie atop the boys junior division with 150 points. Fisher, who placed second on Wednesday with an 83, also has 150 points. Ben Prisching shot an 83 as well, but lost the tiebreaker by one stroke with a lower score on the back nine.
Tyler Ross, a Huntley graduate, recorded the second best score of the day to win the boys senior division with a 77. Following Ross was Johnsburg’s Jake Doherty (80) and Crystal Lake South’s Brandon Dahl (84). Nick Hansen also shot a 84, but lost the tiebreaker.
In the girls senior division, Cary-Grove sophomore Lauren Kalamaras won the first-place trophy with a 43. Brittany Reid finished second with a 54, and Lok Yan Fick and Gabriella Veljikovic each shot a 60.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) I came out here and shot a 38, so I just wanted to try to get that score again,” said Kalamaras, who leads the senior girls division after two events. “The rain wasn’t so much a problem while I was hitting, but the ball rolled differently. The speed of the greens were different, but overall it wasn’t that bad. I was just trying to have fun out here.”
The girls junior division was won by McHenry freshman Maddie Ogden, who shot a 49. Jennifer LeGear and Megan Selby each shot 54 to take second and third, respectively. Ogden leads the girls junior division with 100 points.
The next MCJGA event will take place on Monday at Turnberry in Lakewood.