Tyler Kelly realized if he fell too far back at Tuesday’s Class 3A Lemont Regional, he’d be left behind.
Being 3-over after just two holes, he almost was.
Instead, Kelly, a senior at Lincoln-Way East, rebounded by firing three birdies to finish with an even-par 72 for medalist honors.
“Of course I was a little frustrated, but I stayed in it,” Kelly said. “I knew I had to bounce back and play smart golf. I didn’t make any bogeys after the second hole.”
Kelly topped the 60-player field at Broken Arrow in Lockport with a one-stroke victory over Lockport’s Gehrig Hollatz and the Providence duo of Will McCabe and Ricky Costello.
“This is my last year, so I had some nerves,” Kelly said. “I’m glad I got it done.”
Hollatz nearly forced a playoff with Kelly but said he missed a two-foot putt on his final hole. It was an interesting round for Hollatz, as his day was marked by an unlikely event.
“On the fourth hole of the back nine I got stung by a bee on the arm,” Hollatz said. “I ended up having three birdies right after that. It was awesome.”
In the team standings, Providence earned the title among 10 teams with a 299. Lincoln-Way East finished second with a 303 and Lockport came in third at 308.
Those three schools — along with the 10 best scoring individuals from non-qualifying teams — advance to Monday’s Pekin Sectional.
“We knew it would probably come down to us and Lincoln-Way East,” said McCabe, a Mokena resident. “I know a lot of the kids on Lincoln-Way, so it’s a pretty big rivalry for us.”
The Celtics received contributing scores from Mickey Brick (75) and Kevin McEneany (78) to hit their second consecutive score below 300.
“We knew this was a big-time regional,” Providence coach John Platt said. “We told the guys not to shoot for a bunch of birdies, just make pars. They played smart.”
Lemont, behind fifth-place finisher Ben Groselak (74), took fourth with a 312. Sandburg had a 317 and Lincoln-Way Central was in at 318.
Lincoln-Way Central’s Tony Kestel and Lockport’s Luke Trent shot 74s to tie Groselak for fifth. Lincoln-Way East’s Jake White (75) and Matt Contey (76) weren’t far off the pace.
Other individual qualifiers include Joliet co-op’s Trent Wallace (75) and Isaiah Smith (76); Sandburg’s Michael Mishek (76), John Calzaretta (80) and Ronny Drabek (80); and Lemont’s Matt Groebe (77) and Joe Ziebell (79). Lincoln-Way Central’s Garret Gohacki qualified with an 80.