Columbus North senior Kyung Kim walked to the front of the crowd to pick up his medal for finishing in a tie for third at the Conference Indiana golf championship on Monday at Harrison Lake Country Club.
He managed a slight smile and got a handshake, but he wanted more.
“Individually, it was an honor,” Kim said. “But our team came up a couple of shots short, and ultimately that is what I care about.”
The defending state champion Bull Dogs placed third with a team total of 309, five shots behind second-place Perry Meridian and 13 in back of league champion Bloomington South.
Last year, North won the Conference Indiana title by defeating Bloomington South in a tie-breaker after both teams shot 309 at Bloomington Country Club. Four of a team’s five players count toward the total, unless there is a tie, and the fifth score then decides the match.
Kim, North’s No. 5 golfer in the conference tournament a year ago, won the match last year for North with an 82.
This year, Kim had North’s top score, 73. He was followed by Bryce Turner at 78 and Matt Vorndran and Spencer Fairbanks both at 79. Jared Imlay’s 87 was tossed out.
“I had a front nine 36 (even par), and I wasn’t hitting it that well,” Kim said. “My short game saved me.”
He shot 37 on the back. “In golf you always can say you left a couple of strokes out there.”
North coach Doug Bieker said his inexperienced squad continues to make progress.
“This was a move in the right direction,” he said of his team’s conference effort. “We got off to a bad start, so I was proud of how we played on the back side.
“And Bloomington South is a very good team. They’ve played well the last couple of weeks, and I think they might surprise some people in the state finals.”
North has some work to do if it expects to challenge for a sectional title or place in the top three at the regional to earn a state berth.
“This was our home golf course, so we would have liked to do a little better,” Bieker said. “But we are geared toward the sectional, and I think we will be OK. I still believe in this team.”
Bieker is hoping that his young golfers, such as sophomore Matt Vorndran, begin to reach their potential on a more regular basis.
Vorndran shot a 7-over 43 on the front nine Monday, then rallied with a 36 on the back.
“I would like to see Matt a little more consistent,” Bieker said. “He can’t afford to dig himself that kind of hole.”
But Bieker sees the talent in players like Vorndran and fellow sophomore Spencer Fairbanks coming to the surface.
Fairbanks’ 79 was a move forward.
“I’ve been shooting in the low 80s,” he said. “I think I did a better job with my club selection. In recent rounds, I’ve been hitting everything long.”
Kim, who finished tied for third, and Turner, who finished in a tie for 10th, earned all-conference honors by finishing in the top 10. Bloomington South’s Joe Weiler won the tournament’s individual title with a 2-under 70, and Perry Meridian’s Chris Allman was second at 72.
North now looks forward toward the sectional June 5 at Greensburg Country Club.
“Everyone has to play smarter and more consistent,” Fairbanks said. “We have to hit it straighter.”
Kim added, “Everybody needs to drop a couple of shots. We have a little work to do.”
Bieker said each of his players needs to drop a stroke or two a side.
“It doesn’t sound so hard when you say it like that,” Bieker said.
Conference Indiana Golf Championship
at Harrison Lake Country Club
1. Bloomington South 296
2. Perry Meridian 304
3. Columbus North 309
4. Franklin Central 325
5. Bloomington North 331
6. Southport 340
7. Terre Haute North 347
8. Terre Haute South 357
1. Joe Weiler, Bloomington South, 70
2. Chris Allman, Perry Meridian, 72
3t. Kyung Kim, Columbus North, 73
3t. Ian Bailey, Bloomington North, 73
5. Nick Burris, Bloomington South, 74
6t. Brad Sprinkle, Perry Meridian, 75
6t. Sam Karcher, Bloomington South, 75
8t. Nick Osterburg, Perry Meridian, 77
8t. Tanner Shapiro, Bloomington South, 77
10t. Bryce Turner, Columbus North, 78
10t. Nate Mynatt, Franklin Central, 78