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Local golf teams get back in groove at ACHS scramble

A golfer tees off Phillips Park Aurora. The Phillips Park course will be site for July 19 AurorEast Educational FoundatiGolf

A golfer tees off at Phillips Park in Aurora. The Phillips Park course will be the site for the July 19 Aurora East Educational Foundation Golf Outing. | Sun-Times Media File

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1. Wheaton Academy 199; 2. Timothy Christian 215; 3. Chicago Christian 216, 4. Aurora Central 217, 5. Oswego 218; 6. Oswego East 219; 6. Aurora Christian 219; 6. Sandwich 219; 9. St. Edward 229, 10. Somonauk 248.

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:51AM

The downtime of summer is over. The rounds of golf played casually on a Saturday morning are over.

That is, at least for the high schoolers that took over Phillips Park on Monday. A week from now school will be in session and area boys’ golf teams will be in full backswing for the fall sports season.

Monday morning’s Aurora Christian “Early Bird” two-person scramble was a chance for players from Oswego, Oswego East, Aurora Christian, Aurora Central and Sandwich, among others, to wake from their summer slumber.

“This isn’t competitive mode yet. This is more of a fun day,” Chargers coach Jim Parker said. “Tomorrow, we go to a 17-team competition at Sandwich. We’re going to a tournament Thursday and a nine-hole match Friday. So it’s definitely under way.”

“It seems like everybody loves to play this,” Eagles coach Robbie Baumann said. “It’s a fun event to come out and relax, take some of the pressure off and then really fine tune your game for tomorrow (at Sandwich).”

Ten teams visited Phillips and eight players from each team competed, though one spot went to the coach from each school. In a scramble, players each hit a drive off the tee and the better of the two shots is selected with both players dropping from that point. Play continues in that fashion throughout the round, and in most cases, allows players to get comfortable hitting from various spots on the course.

“This is the first year we’ve done this event,” Oswego coach Chad Pohlmann said. “I was asking the guys what they think and they said it’s great because it gets their confidence going and they get to shoot a whole bunch of different types of shots and warm up before conference play.”

Because of the scramble format, scores also traditionally come in lower as result of avoiding extra strokes from water hazards, out of bounds and bad bunker shots.

The low round of the day went to Oswego seniors Matt Anderson and Mike Wenc, who combined to shoot 65. They birdied No. 17 and No. 18 and could have even gone as low as 63 had it not been for two missed birdie putts within four feet.

“Matt and Mike have worked real hard on their games this past summer,” Pohlmann said. “They’re definitely trying for a good senior year and they’ll be our two leaders. Everyone else will follow suit. We’re looking for good things from them, and nobody has worked harder than Mike to improve his game and build his confidence.”

Wheaton Academy’s aggregate score came in the lowest at 199, followed by Timothy Christian (215), and Chicago Christian (216). Aurora Central (217), Oswego (218), Oswego East (219), Aurora Christian (219) were all bunched up together in the middle of the pack.

Separation will come with daily work, which should happen over the summer, but accountability is also much lower without watchful eyes and distractions are ever present.

“There’s not that many other sports where you can have no practice time and get thrown right into the fire. Literally, no practices,” Oswego East coach Jason Buckley said. “We’re going to play four times this week and that’s a lot, but our guys will be ready. There are a few guys that need to shake the rust off and maybe haven’t played as much as we would have liked over the summer. We’ve got a couple that are trying to catch up a little bit, but our top four are pretty solid.”

The Wolves’ junior duo of Austin Hwang and Jake Briscoe shot 70 for a team low. They are half of the aforementioned four-person group that includes junior Evan Tschida and senior Dominic Gryz, which will be the core group leading the school hoping to improve on a tie for third in the Southwest Prairie Conference last season.

Aurora Central sophomore Sean Harreld and Justin Prince combined to shoot a team-low 68. The Chargers main contingent goes five deep with three-year varsity seniors Reed Tack, Jack McNally and Ryan Baker hoping to make a push from seventh last year.

The Eagles will turn to seniors Zach Calamos, Michael Free and David Clow to lead the way, though sophomore Jackson Hayes — who combined to shoot 70 with his coach — will be a solid underclassman.

“We did clinics over the summer and tried to get the guys together and do short game stuff,” Baumann said. “That’s the only way you better yourself. Now, you should be fine tuning everything. Some guys do that and there are some guys that went on vacation over the summer so it’s a little tougher, but overall, I’ve got a young squad but I’m excited.”

The Sandwich Invite will be a big test for many schools needing to jump headfirst into the heat of competition and jolt away the early-season nerves.

Seniors Davis Brown and Lucas Burkett will lead the Indians, combining to shoot 67 Monday, but don’t expect a home field advantage. No such thing exists in golf. For now, all the teams will take the perfect weather and lazy pace of play that opened their respective seasons.

“It was just a fun day,” said Indians coach Roger Keller, in his 20th year at the helm. “We got the kids together that wanted to play together. It came out OK. I think we’re satisfied.”

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