STERLING – With the postseason right around the corner, the Sterling Invitational was a good gauge to see where the Sterling and Dixon boys golf teams stand.
The Golden Warriors and Dukes have some room for improvement after finishing fifth and 12th, respectively, in a 17-team field on Saturday at wind-swept Emerald Hill Golf Course.
“This tournament is a preview of what the sectional tournament and the state tournament is going to be like,” Sterling junior Ryan Hurley said. “The greens, they get them rolling pretty fast, and the wind is always blowing. It’s good to get a feel for what it could be like down in Bloomington.”
Sterling had two teams tee it up, and the Gold squad finished with a score of 335, behind Providence Catholic (302), Geneseo (323), Moline (326) and DeKalb (332). Slick greens and howling wind out of the south played havoc with the vast majority of the field.
“We all played not as good as we could have, but not terrible,” Hurley said.
“The scores that we put up were not bad at all, for the conditions.”
Hurley was one of three golfers to shoot 81, and he earned 11th place individually. He was backed by Austin Cook (83), Trevor Sisson (85) and Kyle Sinn (86).
Leading the Sterling Navy team was Lucas Campbell with a 99.
For Dixon, the top performer was Ryan Dixon, who carded an 82. Four golfers finished with that score, and Dixon placed 15th individually.
The score was inflated for Dixon due to some shaky work on the greens. He counted seven 3-putts on his scorecard.
“Wherever my shot ended up, it kind of made it difficult for my next putt,” Dixon said. “I got above the hole a lot on my putting today, and it just ran off. I was just as far away as I was on my first putt.”
Austin Thomas (89), Jacob Bonnell (93) and Cord Schroeder (101) rounded out the counting scores for the Dukes.
The class of the tournament was New Lenox Providence junior Mickey Brick, who toured the course in 1-under-par 71. He birdied Nos. 5, 12, 14 and 18, and bogeyed Nos. 9, 11 and 17. It is his second tournament victory this fall, having won the Kankakee Bishop McNamara event as well.
“I drove the ball well and I putted well,” Brick said, “and my irons were decent. It all worked.”
For Brick, who finished tied for 33rd at the 2012 Class 3A state tournament, part of the battle was also between his ears..
“You’ve got to stay focused,” Brick said. “You’re going to make bogeys out there, especially with those greens. You just keep trying.”
Brick was far from a one-man show. Ricky Costello finished second with a 74; Dom Cascino was fourth with a 78; and Will McCabe was eighth with a 79.
“I think on one of the holes I went down three clubs, and it still went too far,” said Costello, a freshman making his first appearance at Sterling. “You really had to adjust to the wind. Everyone played really well today, especially Mickey. We feel good. We’re feeling confident going into the playoffs now.”
1. Providence 302; 2. Geneseo 323; 3. Moline 326
1. Mickey Brick (Providence) 71, 2. Ricky Costello (Providence) 74, 3. Billy Converse (Geneseo) 75