WOODSTOCK – Even though six golfers were within four or fewer strokes of him heading into the second day of the J. Patrick Lawler Crystal Woods Open, Cary's Kyle Irlbacker’s comfort level remained the same.
After shooting a 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday, Irlbacker held off all six Thursday behind a 4-over-par 76 including a myriad of pars to earn his fourth Senior Boys Division McHenry County Junior Golf Association victory. Irlbacker finished with a two-round total of 151.
“Today I was pretty comfortable,” said Irlbacker, who has won three of the past four MCJGA tournaments. “I was struggling with my irons early on and I kind of didn’t feel comfortable with that, but I did feel comfortable with my short game and being able to keep the lead.”
After three consecutive bogeys on holes 3-5, Irlbacker re-gained some momentum with a birdie on No. 8.
“I just really tried to go for the greens and get an early birdie,” Irlbacker said.
On the back nine, Irlbacker has seven pars, while bogeying just two holes. Over the round of 18, Irlbacker recorded par 12 times.
“I hit my driver better today and made the clutch par putts,” Irlbacker added.
One of the six golfers chasing Irlbacker was Huntley’s Brad Spoeth, who trailed Irlbacker by two strokes after day one. Spoeth’s performance on Thursday bumped him up to second place overall after carding another 5-over-par 77. His two-round total was 154.
“Kyle was pretty consistent all day,” Spoeth said. “My short game was off, so if I chipped a little better, I would have been in better shape.
“Yesterday, my short game was a lot better. [My game] pretty much switched off today, almost the exact opposite.”
Rounding out the top three was Crystal Lake’s Paul Schlimm, who entered Day Two in fourth place. Schlimm shot a 5-over-par 77 and ended the tournament at 155 overall.
In the Girls Senior Division, Lauren Kalamaras extended her points lead over Gillian Young to 430, shooting a 46 on Day Two and combined round of 91.
Zach Beaugureau won the Junior Boys Division with an overall score of 162. Myles Miller and Garrett Tighe finished second and third respectively. Maddie Ogden shot a two-day score of 94 to win the Junior Girls Division.
Instead of receiving the typical 100 points for a victory, Irlbacker and other winners earned 200, as the J. Patrick Lawler Crystal Woods Open is the only “double-the-points” tournament of the summer.
With this win and past victories at the Turnberry Open, Cary Open and Prairie Isle Open, Irlbacker has climbed near the top of the championship point standings. He trails Ross (725) by 130 points with only one tournament remaining before next Tuesday’s Tournament of Champions at Woodstock Country Club. The Tournament of Champions will only include the top-eight point-getters in each division.
“[Winning and getting twice the points] means a lot,” Irlbacker said. “It’s big because I have been able move up pretty far on the points list,” Irlbacker said.