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Men's Lincoln Highway: Andrew Blackburn medals, Timber Creek steals team title

SHABBONA – Moms can play a large role in anyone's life, and for Andrew Blackburn it is no different.

With his mother, Amy Blackburn, as his caddy, Blackburn cruised to an eight-shot medalist title at the 92nd Lincoln Highway. 

Blackburn, playing for Emerald Hill and a sophomore at Western Illinois University, came into the second day of competition with a five-shot lead over Timber Creek's Ryan Harrison and PrairieView's Andrew Canfield.

"I knew that my game was there, and that I had a chance to win it if I played well," Blackburn said. "I was a little too protective in my first nine holes today, and I struggled."

Blackburn and Harrison struggled out of the gate Sunday, as they fired a 40 and 41 respectively on their first nine holes. Canfield cut the deficit to only two strokes by firing a 37. 

"I expected that I would have a good shot of winning coming in," said Canfield, who won the tournament in 2010. "I knew I was going to have to be aggressive and make putts, if I wanted to have a shot."

This was when having his mother next to him helped Blackburn relax.

"My mom was very supportive, as a mother would be," explained Blackburn. "She knew to joke when I needed it, kept things light and helped to take pressure off of me. She made sure that I stayed with it and that I could keep making birdies." 

Blackburn regained control over Canfield and Harrison by firing a 2-under par 70 on the final 18 holes, and pull away for an eight-stroke victory over Canfield, and 12-strokes better than Harrison. 

While Harrison was out of medalist contention, he knew a bigger prize was still on the table. 

Harrison, who was playing with Timber Creek teammate Matt Rosquist in the final group, knew that the final four holes were huge for the team.

"Matt and I got together and decided the number to get to was +6 [best-against-bogey] between the two of us," Harrison said. 

Combined, they finished +7 best-against-bogey on the final four holes. The final stretch helped to give thel team a tally of +39, which topped Fairways (formerly Rochelle Country Club) at +37.

"We were struggling all day, and kind of grinding it out," Rosquist said. "We had to work hard for it today, and everyone stepped it up today, and played well to pull it off." 

While the duo was huge for Timber Creek, they did not stand alone on their team making Sunday charges. Every member on the team finished positively on the day for Timber Creek to chip in just enough to slip by Fairways. 

Bob Venier and Harrison both fired +5 on Sunday, while Rosquist and Joel Kipping came in at +4, and Scott Hargrave and and James Huffstutler rounded out Timber Creek with rounds of +2 and +1 respectively. 

"It was a good tournament all around," said Harrison. "Eveyone came together at the end. Joel Kipping came in huge for us in the end, and Bob Venier had another great Sunday. He's a true veteran coming in the clutch."

Timber Creek's team title marked their third in 5 years, including the second straight, and 30th overall in the tournament.

Blackburn's victory is the fifth in Emerald Hill's history, and first since Joe Demory won it in 2004. As a team, Emerald HIll finished in third place, firing a +15 best-against-bogey format. Andrew Blackburn led them with a +22, followed by Josh Kunde at +7, Nathan Blackburn at +1, Ryan Hurley at -1, Rick Anderson at -4, and Jeff Sands at -9. 

Rock River shot a -48, led by Jarred Hippen and Andrew Tichler, who fired +9 and +7 respectively. 

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