CARY – With pressure mounting as the sudden-death playoff went on Friday at Cary Country Club, Kyle Irlbacker remained unfazed.
After watching his counterpart Daniel DePrey bogey the third hole of the playoff, Irlbacker calmly tapped in a short par putt to earn the boys senior division title Friday at the McHenry County Junior Golf Association’s Cary Open.
Irlbacker and DePrey, both of Cary, entered the clubhouse tied at 3-over-par 75 after 18 holes. On the first playoff hole, Irlbacker capitalized on DePrey’s missed birdie putt and was able to match DePrey’s par putt on the next shot.
“I kinda scrambled for that par on [the first playoff hole] while [DePrey] was 10 feet from a birdie,” Irlbacker said. “But I felt more comfortable as we went along.”
On the second playoff hole, No. 11, DePrey two-putted, putting the pressure back on Irlbacker, but he rebounded with a two-putt of his own.
As the winds grew stronger as the playoff continued, Irlbacker knew he had to alter his approach.
“Into the wind, I tried to keep the ball low and underneath it, so it would go a little farther,” Irlbacker said. “With the wind, I played it a little more safe, playing around 20 yards less with my clubs.”
Before the heavy winds kicked in, Maddie Ogden won her seventh girls senior division title of the summer, by five strokes, shooting an 8-over 46. Daniela Miranda and Caroline Giorgi shot a pair of 51s, but Miranda won a scorecard tiebreak. Ogden (855) also increased her points lead over her sister, Hannah, by 445.
“My driving has been working really well lately,” said Maddie Ogden, whose victory also marks her fourth consecutive win. “I’m getting more confident in my game, being able to hit a perfect shot without worrying about it anymore.”
In the boys junior division, Garrett Tighe wrapped up his third MCJGA title after defeating Brandon Gulli in another three-hole playoff. Jack Markham shot a 79 to finish third.
Gillian Young carded a 4-over 42 to win the girls senior division. Young (350) moved up to third place on the season with the win, adding 100 points to her previous total. Lauren Kalamaras finished second with a 45, while Lok Yan Fick shot a 46 to finish third.
“I really didn’t expect to shoot that low because I wasn’t doing so well on the last couple holes,” Young said. “I was pretty surprised but very happy with my round.”
Irlbacker said he had struggled in recent tournaments, so this win came as quite a relief.
“I’m excited and happy,” Irlbacker said. “I’ve been in a little bit of a slump, so coming back and winning this means a lot.”