WOODSTOCK – Even though six golfers were within four or fewer strokes of him heading into the second day of the J. Patrick Lawler Crystal Woods Open, Cary's Kyle Irlbacker’s comfort level remained the same.
After shooting a 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday, Irlbacker held off all six Thursday behind a 76 to earn his fourth senior boys division McHenry County Junior Golf Association victory. Irlbacker finished with a two-round total of 151.
“Today I was pretty comfortable,” said Irlbacker, who has won three of the past four MCJGA tournaments. “I was struggling with my irons early on and I kind of didn’t feel comfortable with that, but I did feel comfortable with my short game and being able to keep the lead.”
After three consecutive bogeys on holes 3 through 5, Irlbacker regained some momentum with a birdie on No. 8.
“I just really tried to go for the greens and get an early birdie,” Irlbacker said.
On the back nine, Irlbacker had seven pars while bogeying only two holes. Over the round of 18, Irlbacker had 12 pars.
“I hit my driver better today and made the clutch par putts,” Irlbacker said.
One of the six golfers chasing Irlbacker was Huntley’s Brad Spoeth, who trailed Irlbacker by two strokes after the first day. Spoeth’s second consecutive 77 bumped him up to second place.
“Kyle was pretty consistent all day,” Spoeth said. “My short game was off, so if I chipped a little better, I would have been in better shape.
“Yesterday, my short game was a lot better. [My game] pretty much switched off today, almost the exact opposite.”
Rounding out the top three was Crystal Lake’s Paul Schlimm, who entered Thursday in fourth place. Schlimm shot a 77 and ended the tournament at 155.
In the girls senior division, Lauren Kalamaras extended her points lead over Gillian Young to 430, shooting a 46 Thursday and a combined round of 91.
Zach Beaugureau won the junior boys division with a 162 total. Myles Miller and Garrett Tighe finished second and third, respectively. Maddie Ogden shot a two-day score of 94 to win the junior girls division.
Instead of receiving the typical 100 points for a victory, Irlbacker and other winners earned 200, as the tournament is a “double-the-points” event.
With this win and past victories at the Turnberry Open, Cary Open and Prairie Isle Open, Irlbacker has climbed near the top of the championship point standings. He trails Ross (725) by 130 points with only one tournament remaining before Tuesday’s Tournament of Champions at Woodstock Country Club. The Tournament of Champions will include only the top eight point-getters in each division.
“[Winning and getting twice the points] means a lot,” Irlbacker said. “It’s big because I have been able move up pretty far on the points list.”