HENRYVILLE — Columbus East junior Zach Sutton did his best Tiger Woods fist pump after dropping a par putt on his final hole of the “best round of my life.”
His playing partners finished their rounds as well at the Providence Regional at Champions Pointe on Thursday, and then Sutton hurried off the green to get a congratulatory pat from Olympians head coach Tom LaBarbera.
It wasn’t clear whether or not Sutton’s round of 75 would get him to the state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at The Legends in Franklin, but it was going to be close.
Sutton gave it his best shot, coming out of fairway and green-side bunkers to make his double-sandy par on No. 9, which was his 18th hole.
“I’m going to remember this,” said Sutton, who was sent out as East’s No. 5 golfer, which usually means that scores in the 80s are more likely than ones in the 70s. “This feels amazing.”
LaBarbera hopes that Sutton remembers the feeling, and that he does whatever he can from now through his senior season to get better. LaBarbera knows that his golfers have the talent to produce some great feelings, but those happy rounds will be few without dedication.
Billowing clouds moved slowly over the Fuzzy Zoeller course on Thursday, and each golfer could take his pick of dark clouds or silver linings. Sutton shot the best round of his life, with everything on the line, but it was two shots from getting him to the state tournament.
Columbus East No. 1 golfer, Adam Krebs, finished birdie, birdie, birdie to shoot an out-of-nowhere 74. It was still stormy for Krebs, though, because he was one shot out of his second consecutive state berth.
Krebs matched or shot better than four of the five Columbus North golfers, all who will be playing in the state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday. Sutton matched or shot better than three of the five.
Still, it takes a village, or in this case a team, to band together to get everyone to the state tournament. Every player, at one point or another, has to hold up his end of the bargain. Then everyone can celebrate together.
“All of us need to improve our mental attitudes,” said Krebs, who finished his junior season. “We have to do a better job with how we compose ourselves, and how smart we play.
“But our talent is there. At the end of this year, we started to play some good golf.”
LaBarbera was still shaking his head 30 minutes after Krebs completed his round. “Wow, three birdies to finish,” LaBarbera said. “That is finishing strong.
“And, obviously, Zach had a great day as well. He had a great attitude all day. He stayed in the moment and I’m thrilled for him.”
Every golfer who started for East on Thursday (Sutton, Krebs, Will Mayhew, Austin Proffitt and Chris Jurrema), will return next season. It could be a very special year.
It also should be noted that the two “Tigers” on the other side of town, Michael VanDeventer and Christian Fairbanks, along with the rest of the guys in the North varsity lineup, are graduating. Are the stars aligning for East?
“We had two sophomores out there (Proffitt and Mayhew) and they hadn’t faced this kind of pressure before,” LaBarbera said. “Now it’s time for a lot of hard work this summer.
“That’s what it will take for us to punch through. We had 322 (in the regional) last year, and 318 this year. That’s better, but it’s not going to get it done. I think we have the talent, now it’s a matter of the other intangibles.
“Are we happy just getting here? That’s what we have to decide.”
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 379-5632.