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WHEN Columbus North coach Doug Bieker put Christian Fairbanks in the No. 1 spot midway through the season, the sophomore took it as a challenge.
Fairbanks passed with flying colors.
After leading the Bull Dogs to a regional title with a 72 at Champions Pointe, Fairbanks carded back-to-back 75s at The Legends Golf Club to lead North to a fourth-place finish in the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals. He averaged 37.6 per nine holes and earned All-State honors.
“(Playing No. 1) was nothing that I couldn’t handle,” said Fairbanks, The Republic’s Athlete of the Year for boys golf. “It makes me work hard every day. At the beginning of the year, I really thought hard about playing No. 1 and how much pressure that would bring, but after I got into the spot, it really didn’t matter to us what number we played. We all tried to win every tournament as a team.”
The Bull Dogs won their fair share. They were ranked No. 1 most of the season.
But Fairbanks lamented a couple of tournaments North didn’t win. The Bull Dogs won sectional and regional titles but finished second in the Conference Indiana tourney and fourth in the state finals. They led the state finals after the first day.
“I still think we could have all played a couple tournaments a little better,” Fairbanks said. “We never all played really well in any one tournament. We all kind of had our good days.
“I don’t know what’s worse, losing (state) in a scorecard playoff last year or just blowing it this year,” he added. “We could have won it pretty easily, but we didn’t.”
Fairbanks was a model of consistency, avoiding big numbers. His best rounds were a 70 in the 18-hole Wabash Invitational at Stonehenge and a 34 in a nine-hole dual match at Harrison Lake.
“He was solid all year,” Bieker said. “His rounds appeared almost easy at times. He didn’t make a ton of birdies, but he didn’t make many mistakes, either. His rounds were pretty uneventful, and they were very good. If all five guys played like that, I think anybody could coach them to success.”
“I just want to do well in the tournaments that I’m playing in and just to learn about myself each tournament and learn from my mistakes and just get better every day,” Fairbanks added.
Fairbanks, who earlier this week qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur in July, improved his 18-hole average from 77 as a freshman to 75 this season.
“He was a very capable player, even as a freshman,” Bieker said. “He’s going to be a great player. At this point, small changes and small improvements make the difference between a good high school player and a great high school player. If he’s not at the ‘great’ level, he’s very close to it. He’s a tremendous player, and I’m looking for big things from him the next couple of years.”
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