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Newcomers fare well at Woodruff in Joliet Junior Amateur

Huston Gass lines up his putt on the fourth hole Monday during the Joliet Junior Amateur tournament at Woodruff Golf Course in Joliet. See more photos at
Huston Gass lines up his putt on the fourth hole Monday during the Joliet Junior Amateur tournament at Woodruff Golf Course in Joliet. See more photos at

JOLIET – A golfer’s first round on Woodruff Golf Course can be a real test, considering the many tree-lined fairways, small greens and elevation changes on the historic eastside links.

But an initial trip to Woodruff didn’t faze the competitors who managed to claim the lead after the first round of the Joliet Park District’s Joliet Junior Amateur.

Jon Krupa fired a 74 to grab a one-stroke advantage over Victor Perez, Jr. in a tightly-contested battle atop the 16 to 18 year old division.

And Thomas Rodriguez and Jake Pluth both turned in scores of 79 to distance themselves from the rest of the field in the 13 to 15 year old group.

Although Krupa will be a senior at Downers Grove South, he is no stranger to golf in this area, competing regularly at Broken Arrow.

After winning a conference title as a sophomore, he experienced a down junior year. He’s hoping that a good summer will help him conclude his high school career on a high note.

“I love playing par fives and I’m usually not the best at playing [par threes],” Krupa said. “But this course is really nice and it was a nice change to play on it and I came out here and played really well. And I was very surprised to have the best round today.

“I’ve had a really good summer. I’ve been working at Oak Brook Golf Club, which is a great course, and have had a lot of time to practice over there. And I play Broken Arrow all of the time and my pro is Mike Camastro. He’s a great teacher and I love working with him.”

Victor Perez, Jr., who turned in the day’s second-best score with a 75, knows a thing or two about Woodruff. He recently shot a 70 in the first round of the Woodruff Club Championship, where he took third place in an event featuring many familiar names.

Perez, who will be a junior at Lincoln-Way East, was the top performer in a foursome that also included Huston Gass, who shot a 76, and Mark Boykin, who finished with a 77.

“I played with a good group of competitors, which made me try a little harder,” Perez said. “The course was great, the greens were nice and the weather was fine, too. I play here a lot and I like this course and I placed third here in the Club Championship.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing. I’ve had a few bad rounds this summer but then got back up and shoot rounds like this. I’ve played in a few IJGAs and scored in the top 10. I’m excited for the high school season and feel that I can put up some good scores this year.”

Gass, the University of St. Francis athlete who easily captured the Park District’s Junior Tournament Boys A title three weeks ago and Boykin will join Krupa and Perez in what figures to be a very competitive foursome in Tuesday’s finale.

In the younger age group, there will be a showdown between Rodriguez, who will be a sophomore at Peotone, and Pluth, an incoming freshman at Joliet Catholic.

While Pluth easily won the Boys B title in JPD’s Junior Tournament, he figures to have a tougher time in round two in this tournament against Rodriguez, who has steadily improved throughout the summer.

“This was the first time that I’ve played this course,” Rodriguez said. “And actually that’s the first time that I’ve ever shot under 80. I was hitting everything straight and good and I was happy, so my attitude was good. Things went perfect and I was very confident.

“This is my fourth tournament this summer, and I’ve came in fifth in my first one and then third and second in my last one, so I’ve been moving up.”

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