ALTON – Two hours before Tuesday’s Alton Tee-Off Classic at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course was scheduled to begin, rain hit the Alton area.
That got the Marquette Catholic Explorers concerned.
“We were getting really nervous that we weren’t going to play,” Marquette senior Michael Holtz said. “We really wanted to play, especially against Edwardsville. We really like playing against really good competition.”
After six hours of golf, the Explorers were not only thrilled that the Tee-Off Classic wasn’t called off, they left Spencer T. Olin Golf Course as tournament champions.
Marquette won the 21-team tournament with a four-player score of 298. Edwardsville was second with a 302 and Quincy finished third with a 314.
“All of the credit in the world goes to Marquette,” Edwardsville co-coach Adam Tyler said. “They have a really good team over there and we hope they do great things this year.”
Edwardsville’s Ben Tyrrell won the individual championship with an 18-hole score of 66 in the par-72 course. Tyrell shot a 33 in the front and back nine and finished with nine birdies and nine pars.
Spencer Patterson was the other Edwardsville golfer who earned a medal as he finished in a tie for sixth with O’Fallon’s Logan Harris with a 75.
“We had a couple of really good scores with Ben Tyrell and Spencer Patterson,” Tyler said. “Those were two scores that were impressive for us. There were a couple of guys who didn’t shoot as well as they would like, but I’m really impressed and really happy with their effort. The last five holes, they could have cashed it in, but they didn’t. They fought back and played hard, but it’s early in the season and it’s a good score for being this early in the season.”
Also, Alton fielded two teams in the tournament. The Alton “A” team finished 19th with a 397 and the Alton “B” team didn’t have a team score.
Matt Moore was the Redbirds’ top finisher, placing in a five-way tie for 61st with a 93 for the Alton “A” team. Dylan Lahue, who also competed for Alton “A”, finished in a three-way for 78th with a 98.
“Today was a humid day,” Alton coach Zach Deeder said. “Out of the 10 guys we played, three of them dropped out due to illness or injury and they were heat related. We’ve got to get conditioned for that, but I was pretty happy. It’s a good place to start.”
Granite City was 20th with a 407. Riley Brown finished in a four-way tie for 52nd with a 90 and Drew Wielgus was in a three-way tie for 58th with a 92.
Brown, Wielgus and Grant Beanland, who finished 94th with a 107, are among the top returning golfers for the Warriors this fall.
“We have a lot of young golfers and first-year golfers that will give us a chance to compete this year and in another few years to come,” Granite City coach Jeff Ridenour said. “We have 11 new golfers in the program, so we’re looking at 16 or 17 total with one or two more possibly to sign up. We have 10 freshmen and a sophomore who is out for the first time.”
The Explorers had four golfers who earned medals. Holtz finished second with a 72, Kolten Bauer and Nick Messinger finished in a tie for third with a 74 and Jack Patterson finished in a three-way tie for 13th with a 78. Duncan McClain came up one place short of a medal as he finished in a three-way tie for 16th with a 79.
Holtz shot 11 pars and four birdies, Bauer finished with 11 pars, one birdie and three bogeys, Messinger had 14 pars, one birdies and three bogeys and Patterson had 11 pars.
Holtz said he was confident that his team was going to shoot under 300.
“I knew if we play good, we could do it,” the Marquette senior said. “It started to become surreal in the back nine where everyone was two or three over and everyone was bouncing around right there. I knew we were looking good and I knew if we stuck with it, we could definitely shoot under 300.”
Holtz, Messinger, McLain, Bauer and Patterson helped the Explorers win a regional championship and place seventh at the Class 2A state tournament last fall.
Holtz said the tournament victory on Tuesday gave his team a boost of confidence for the rest of the season.
“It’s great,” he said. “We’re looking strong. We’re all peaking at the right time. I think everyone feels like they left a few shots out there, so hopefully we can minimize the mistakes the next tournament and go even lower.”