While many teams left Monday’s Kishwaukee Invite frustrated about the difficulty of the course, DeKalb’s home-course advantage left them satisfied with their second-place performance.
Freshman Austin Freeman’s 7-over-par 77 led three Barbs with sub-80 scores, and a tiebreaker gave them second place over Burlington Central, who also scored a 314. Geneva won the invitational with a 311, but the consistency throughout DeKalb’s scores pleased coach John Cordes.
“We were pretty solid from top to bottom, so for a team that’s got as little experience as our team, that’s a pretty big confidence booster,” Cordes said.
Burlington Central’s Matt Weber (an Indiana recruit) had far and away the best score of the day with a 1-under 69, and Freeman tied for second place behind him. DeKalb’s Jacob Cook and Robby Bishop finished with scores of 78 and 79, respectively.
Freeman was quick to point out his mistakes, but he also acknowledged what helped him to such a solid performance.
“I missed quite a few putts, but I hit a lot of greens and made a couple birdies to get back in it,” Freeman said. “[My familiarity with the course] helped me out with my tee shots and knowing where to go on the course.”
The Kishwaukee Country Club is DeKalb’s home course, but it didn’t look like it early on. Five out of the Barbs’ seven players finished the front nine with scores in the 40s, but on the back nine, only two players reached that mark.
Given the rough start, Cordes was both proud of and surprised with his team’s final placement.
“I am very pleased with my team, because at about the halfway mark, I had only heard that they weren’t doing very well,” Cordes said. “At that point, you remind them that it’s 18 holes and to hang in there, and they did.”
Indian Creek finished in 10th, led by an 88 from sophomore Peyton Gatz. Sycamore ended up in eighth, paced by senior Ryan Aurand’s 82.
Spartans assistant coach Dan Wheeler, who was filling in for head coach Dave Burdick, said Aurand’s performance as key to their placement, but he was mainly happy with the team overall. It is a very young group, and in unfamiliar territory, he thought that they responded well.
“For many of the guys, being their first time playing this course, which is very different from our home course,” Wheeler said. “Given that, I thought they did a nice job.”
Home-course advantage flips today when DeKalb heads to Sycamore for the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference opener. Even with the performance of his team Monday, Cordes still sees room for improvement.
“If we can start to get rid of the bigger scores, the plus-bogey holes, it makes you feel so much better and so much more confident,” Cordes said. “That’s where we need to get better going forward.”