By Will Willems
Battle Ground —
It was a long afternoon of waiting for Lebanon sophomore Zach Schroeder Friday at the Lafayette Jefferson Golf Regional at Battle Ground Golf Course.
After being in one of the first groups to report scores, Schroeder knew that his 76 was the top score by all individual competitors in the regional. But then the waiting game began — he still had to see if any kids who participated as part of a team — with the team not advancing to state finals — topped his score to keep him out of the top 5.
In the end, it was worth the wait, as Schroeder’s score was the tied for the fourth best score by a non-team advancing individual, and he will be headed to the state finals for the second-straight year.
“It’s awesome,” Schroeder said. “That was my main goal coming into this season after missing the cut at state by one last year.”
It was a tough start for Schroeder, who double bogeyed the first and bogeyed the second to be 3-over through the first two.
But he was able to pare the next four holes. He bogeyed the seventh, but birdied the ninth for a 3-over 39 on the front side.
“I struggled a little bit on the front nine today,” Schroeder said. “But I was able to find something in my swing late and was able to finish out strong.”
Schroeder played the back-nine in 1-over. He bogeyed the 11th and 18th, but managed a birdie on the par-4 15th.
He said he felt better on the back-nine.
“I was rolling the ball well on the greens,” he said. “And I hit the ball decent to score well enough on the back to give myself a chance next week.”
Schroeder said the Tigers’ schedule this season helped him after he started 3-over on the first two holes.
It showed, as he played the final 16 holes in 1-over.
“It helps a lot that we played a tough schedule this year,” he said. “We have played this course a couple of times, so I knew what was coming up and I knew there were a couple holes I could come back on.”
Schroeder’s score came in around 12:30 p.m.
For the next three hours, he watched as team scores came in.
“I am definitely a little nervous, but not too bad,” Schroeder said as he was waiting. “But there is nothing I can do about it now.”
When the final team scores went up, there was a slight relief to Schroeder. Zionsville ended up in fourth with a 304, two shots behind Carmel for the final advancing spot.
Had the Eagles advanced instead of the Greyhounds, there would have been a four-way tie at 76 — causing a four-man playoff for the final two individual spots.
Instead Schroeder and Lake Central’s Nicholas Good were the only two individuals with a 76 and both advanced.
Schroeder said the increased competition at the sectional this season helped hi,
“We played an easier course last year against — I wouldn’t say weaker teams, but not as good as we faced this year at Golf Club of Indiana, he said. “I think it helps in the long run to play teams like that.”
The state finals begin Tuesday at the Legends of Indiana in Franklin.
For the first time, all players will return for the second round on Wednesday.
Schroeder’s tee-time will be announced sometime this weekend.