FOND DU LAC — Golf is more a marathon than it is a sprint and Wednesday marked the end of a long junior golf journey for 25 golfers who made the cut at the WSGA Junior Boys Championship in their final junior tournament.
For Reedsburg's Dylan Brown, though, he hopes to use his third-place finish as a springboard to bigger things this fall at Winona (Minnesota) State.
Brown shot rounds of 70-70-73 to finish the 54-hole event at 3-under 213, nine shots behind runaway winner Piercen Hunt of Hartland. For Brown, the strong finish to his summer helped ease the painful way with which he began the summer, missing a WIAA state tournament berth at the Division 1 Verona sectional at Edelweiss Chalet CC in New Glarus despite shooting a 75.
"I think this week opened my eyes that I can play with a lot of the good players in the state when I play (well)," Brown wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "The WSGA puts on some wonderful tournaments and I was glad to end my junior career on a good note."
He's even more excited to start his college career at Winona State. He chose to play NCAA Division II golf for the Warriors and coach Jeff Straight over opportunities to continue his hockey career at the junior level.
"It was a very difficult decision for me," Brown wrote. "I went back and forth a few times before I finally decided I for sure wanted to golf. I am very happy that I chose golf and I can't wait to get started. ... I leave for college next Friday (Aug. 17) and I am extremely excited to play golf at the next level."
Matthew Raab goes low
As a high school teammate of Hunt at Hartland Arrowhead, Matthew Raab had a one-track mind during the final round: Go low.
"I knew I had to go low because Piercen and the rest of the field had been playing so well," Raab wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf after making four birdies in a bogey-free 68 — the low round of the day — that helped him finish in a tie for third place at 3-under 213, nine shots behind Hunt. "The only real difference between (Wednesday) and the past two (days) was my ability to keep a clean card. I didn't make a bogey, which was my goal."
The finish earned 275 points for Raab and moved him into third place in the WPGA Junior Boys player-of-the-year points standings (1,052). He trails only Hunt (1,530.50) and Kaukauna senior-to-be Brock Hlinak (1,330), who shot 2-under 70 and finished fifth at 2-under 214.
"It was great to get a top-three finish," Raab wrote. "It was like icing on the cake for my summer. I'm going to try to keep this momentum going into the rest of my tournaments."
Last pitch for Austin Thyes
WSGA Junior runner-up Austin Thyes, who shot 70-70-71, would like to keep the momentum of his runner-up finish going, but the senior-to-be at Sheboygan North has another sport on his plate: Soccer.
Thyes was a first-team all-Fox River Classic Conference defender on the pitch last season at Sheboygan North. Practice begins Monday and the Raiders play their first game Aug. 21 at home against Neenah.
That doesn't leave much time to keep playing junior golf tournaments. But that's not to say Thyes isn't thinking about it.
"This was a big confidence booster as I played three rounds under par," Thyes wrote in a text to Wisconsin.Golf. "This shows that I have the game to succeed at a higher level. I don’t think I have any other tournaments this summer as soccer season is starting up soon. But who knows? I am playing well and maybe I’ll sign up for some more tournaments."
Crossing the tees
Hunt has one more major on his 2018 schedule: The Wisconsin State Open, which is Aug. 20 through 22 at North Shore GC in Menasha. He tied for 23rd a year ago in his State Open debut at North Shore CC in Mequon. ... Jack Blair of Wauwatosa had a little bit of everything on his scorecard this week. His 15 birdies were second only to Hunt (16) and he also had 10 bogeys, three double-bogeys and one eagle. ... Kaukauna's Tyler Cleaves was the only golfer in the field to have two eagles. And he did it on the same hole, making a pair of 3s on the par-5 17th hole in Monday's first round and Wednesday's final round.