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Sports

Boys Golf: Downers Grove North's Aidan Lafferty wins title at Batavia on tiebreaker

Hinsdale Central edges Glenbard West for team championship

October 14, 2017 - Bloomington, IL - Downers Grove North's Aidan Lafferty watches his tee shot sail over the water feature on the 17th hole at this year's Illinois High School Association state golf tournament on Saturday. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
October 14, 2017 - Bloomington, IL - Downers Grove North's Aidan Lafferty watches his tee shot sail over the water feature on the 17th hole at this year's Illinois High School Association state golf tournament on Saturday. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

BATAVIA – It was a momentous but ultimately bittersweet week for Will Marshall.

Only days after parlaying two career top-five finishes at the Class 2A boys golf state tournament into an verbal commitment to the University of Nebraska, Marshall arrived at Pheasant Run on Saturday on an emotional high.

The Kaneland senior toured the par-72 St. Charles layout in the shotgun start with a 2-under 70.

But the typical regular-season tiebreaker – a scorecard playoff – did not auger well at the Batavia Invitational for Marshall.

Aidan Lafferty, a reigning Class 3A all-stater for Downers Grove North, had three birdies on the back nine – including the 18th hole – to match the Marshall total.

The scorecard tiebreaker began on the final hole, and Marshall was deemed the runner-up as a result of his par in regulation.

Marshall, however, has grander ambitions for his final fall of high school golf.

“I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” Marshall said. “I am trying to support the team as much as I can.”

After all, Marshall has already left an imprint in the Knights’ program history on an individual basis after finishing fourth as a freshman and fifth last fall at the Illinois State University course in Normal.

“As much as I’m trying to get down [to Normal] as an individual, I really want to get down there as a team,” Marshall said. “It’s been a few years [2012] since we have been down there.”

Marshall, though, certainly does not want a repeat of two years ago.

One week after a superlative regional-championship round, Marshall shockingly missed the cut at the sectional in 2016.

“The sectional is always a tough tournament,” Marshall said. “The course is a little more difficult than the ones we’re used to. I didn’t really have a plan that year. No course management, just pulling driver on every hole. It was nice last year to get back to state.”

Ryan Milton also earned top-20 status at state last year for Kaneland in his first year.

“[Marshall] has been great,” Milton said. “He helps me a lot. He gives me a lot of tips and always tells me what to expect. It’s been great having him.”

Milton complemented Marshall with a 76 at Pheasant Run, but the other four Kaneland starters struggled as the team was 10th in the 21-team field with a 323.

The Knights will host the sectional in October at Hughes Creek, but Marshall is realistic.

“It’s a team game,” Marshall said. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link. We’re trying to get through and get all our scores in the 70s.”

Geneva (320) was seventh at Batavia. Tyler Isenhart, the Vikings’ Baylor-bound senior with consecutive top-three Class 3A finishes to his credit, was fourth overall with a 1-over 73.

St. Charles East (332), Batavia (338), St. Charles North (341) and Marmion (366) all finished in the lower half of the tournament.

Lafferty and Hinsdale Central senior Mac McClear, bound for Iowa, tied for fifth in Bloomington in the Class 3A state tournament last fall.

But Lafferty escaped all potential danger and employed clutch putting to earn tournament-medalist honors.

“I did a really good job of keeping it in play off the tee,” Lafferty said. “There were a couple of tee shots I put in the trees, had to chip it back out and trust my recovery skills to make par. I putted really well today. I felt like every putt I looked at had a really good chance of going in.”

Hinsdale Central, though, once again bested all comers to win the team title.

The Red Devils have won six consecutive state championships.

Gabe Larson fired a third-place 1-under 71 courtesy of a tournament-best six birdies, Josh Lundmark came home in 75 and McClear had a 76 as the Red Devils eased past fellow West Suburban Silver foe Glenbard West 303-308 for the title.

“The wind was not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Lundmark, a recent Cornell University commit. “Some of these holes are tree-lined, so it kind of blocks the wind. [My round was the product] mostly of ball striking.”

Colin Malec, John Wild and Griffin Rosich all had 76s for the Hilltoppers.

Benet (316), behind Charlie Schuster (77), defeated Downers North and Lake Park for fourth on a fifth-card tiebreaker.

Wheaton Warrenville South (320), York (322) and Lyons Township (328) all placed in the second tier.

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