Jackson Clark’s putter had given him fits most of the day Monday, but when the Marmion senior’s state hopes were on the line, he came through.
Clark’s 20-foot putt for par on the first playoff hole earned him a trip to state as he grabbed one of the final advancing individual spots at the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional at Prairie Bluff Golf Course in Crest Hill.
“It was great,” he said. “All day, I couldn’t hit a putt. That last one, it was either going to go in or go off the green. I wasn’t going to come up short. I’ve worked so hard and I played really well and I guess it was meant to be.”
Clark, Naperville Central’s Scott Dunsire and Batavia’s Andrew Nelson all survived a seven-man playoff for the final three spots after shooting two-over 74, all making pars on the first.
Benet’s Ben Johnson (72) and George Carroll (73), Marmion’s Nick Huggins (72) and Naperville North’s Griffin Brown (72) also advanced to state, which begins Friday at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball great, but I just made putts when I needed to,” Brown said. “I wish we could have made it as a team, but I’m happy with how I played.”
Johnson and Huggins were both models of consistency, each posting 36s on each half of the course.
“The course didn’t play super difficult, but it was by far the hardest sectional out there,” Johnson said. “It was tough and it was really disappointing to come up short as a team, but I played really well. I made back-to-back birdies on 18 and 1 and that really got me going.”
“The 72 was a personal record for me,” Huggins said. “It was a great time to do it. I really played the par-5s well.”
Lyons’ Jon Hudson (68) was the medalist, winning a playoff with Hinsdale Central’s Brendan O’Reilly.
Hinsdale Central (284), York (293) and Lyons (294) were the advancing teams.
The seven-man playoff, which came after three weather delays, was decided in one hole as Clark, Dunsire and Nelson made pars.
“I’ve been in that situation before,” Dunsire said. “I was in a playoff in the Illinois Open (qualifier) and a couple others. I wasn’t too nervous. I was surprised to have to go a playoff with a 74, but I think playing in such a tough sectional will just benefit us all at state.”
Nelson made the final putt of the day to wrap up the playoff, a five-footer that had him plenty nervous.
“My hands were shaking and when I first hit it, I thought I missed it,” he said. “It just barely snuck in. It was a great feeling.”