GURNEE – All of the pressure was lifted off Garrett Tighe. After entering the club house at Bittersweet Golf Club on Monday tied for first with a 3-under-par 69, the Jacobs junior was confident in his chances of beating Stevenson's Jackson Bussell in a playoff.
Wearing a black University of Iowa hat and a matching black polo shirt, Tighe calmly sank a 5-foot putt on the first playoff hole (the par-4 No. 16) to earn top honors at the Class 3A Warren Boys Golf Sectional.
Bussell missed his putt for par from about the same spot. When Tighe made his sectional-clinching putt, a Golden Eagles teammate yelled out the name of the team on Tighe's hat.
Tighe committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes less than three weeks ago.
"It was fun; it was good," said Tighe, who had four birdies and a bogey in his round. "I didn't want to make a bogey, and hopefully he didn't make a birdie. I was just looking to make par. I was right behind him (Bussell), so I knew the break."
Tighe was one of three local golfers to qualify for Friday's Class 3A state tournament at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington. Joining Tighe downstate for the first time are McHenry sophomore Truman Keppy (77) and Dundee-Crown senior JP Anderson (78).
Lake Forest won the sectional championship with a 296, beating Stevenson (296) with a better fifth-golfer score. Highland Park earned the third and final trip to state with a 298. Jacobs (324) placed sixth, Crystal Lake South (342) was ninth, and Cary-Grove (352) was 10th.
Tighe, who missed state by one stroke his freshman year and was coming off a regional round of 83, said Monday's round was extra special given the weight of the tournament.
"That was the goal this year, to make it to state," Tighe said. "I didn't play too well in regionals, so I wanted to do well in sectionals. I hit driver twice on the whole course, so I thought that was kind of weird, but I played well. At regionals, I didn't putt that well. Today, I putted really well. No three-putts, and lots of one-putts and two-putts."
Jacobs coach Gary Conrad said Tighe's experience over the past three seasons paid off Monday.
"He was ready for this," Conrad said. "He made really good decisions off the tee all day, and he putted really well. I think he showed that when he made that 5-footer to win it, just whacked it right in. He had a good day when it mattered the most."
Unlike Tighe, Anderson had to sweat out his first trip to state. Anderson was one of four golfers with a 78 to enter a playoff for the final three spots to state. He was the first of the four to clinch a spot, nearly draining a 60-foot putt on the 16th. He made his tap-in for par and showed a big smile.
"To do it in a playoff, that's one of the most cool ways to do it," Anderson said. "There was a lot of anticipation. That putt was really long. I was just trying to get it to 4 or 5 feet. It's just a great feeling. It's nice to do it my senior year, because the past two sectionals haven't gone the way I wanted them to. It's nice to finally pull it off."
Keppy, playing in his second sectional tournament in two years, avoided the playoff with a 77. He started with a 41 on the back nine and finished with an even-par 36 on the front, calling his round "a real grind."
"Last year, I made it to sectionals, and it didn't go so well," said Keppy, who was runner-up at the Fox Valley Conference Meet with a 70 and shot an 81 last week at regionals. "It just pushed me more to get down to state. I knew I could put a score up to have a chance, but it was tough. I'm looking to go low (at state), and hopefully get a top-20, top-10 finish."
Tighe had a 3-under-par 69 and won a one-hole playoff over Stevenson’s Jackson Bussell to earn medalist honors and advance to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time in three tries.
3: Local qualifiers to the Class 3A state tournament (Tighe, McHenry’s Truman Keppy, Dundee-Crown’s JP Anderson)
AND ANOTHER THING …
Jacobs senior Riley Coakley and Huntley junior Garrett Heinke were one shot away from a playoff for state. Both Fox Valley Conference golfers had 79s, with the playoff cutoff at 78.
Class 3A Warren Sectional
at Bittersweet in Gurnee, par 72
Team results (top three advance to state): 1. Lake Forest 296, 2. Stevenson 296, 3. Highland Park 298, 4. Mundelein 317, 5. Carmel 320, 6. Jacobs 324, 7. DeKalb 328, 8. Deerfield 329, 9. Crystal Lake South 342, 10. Cary-Grove 352, 11. Hononegah 354, 12. Guilford 357
Medalist: Garrett Tighe (Jacobs) 69
Advancing individuals: Garrett Tighe (Jacobs) 69, Jack Paeglow (DeK) 72, Christian Loar (Mund) 75, Colin Robinson (Pal) 75, Evan Schaefer (Carm) 77, Josh Peterson (Mund) 77, Truman Keppy (McH) 77, 8. Bennett Baker (Belvidere North) 78, Michael Pelfresne (Carm) 78, JP Anderson 78
Local team scores
Jacobs (324): Garrett Tighe 69, Riley Coakley 79, Daniel Leitner 87, Ryan Wrzeszcz 89
Crystal Lake South (342): John Lishchynsky 84, Will Stewart 84, Casey Hunter 86, Ethan Wiggs 88
Cary-Grove (352): Trevor Brandon 80, Patrick Tobin 84, Ben Stogis 90, Trevor Beaugureau 98