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Oregon's Ben Gardner finishes 45th at state golf tournament

Ben Gardner lines up a putt during the Byron Sectional on Oct. 14. Photo by Earleen Hinton
Ben Gardner lines up a putt during the Byron Sectional on Oct. 14. Photo by Earleen Hinton

It was a 45th place finish for Ben Gardner of Oregon at the IHSA Class 1A state golf meet at PrairieVista in Bloomington. Competing against 110 other golfers, Gardner shot an 80-86 over the two-day tournament.

“It was a great experience,” Gardner said. “I liked how I played.”

Competing in cold and windy conditions both days, Gardner had a mixed scorecard, with five birdies and three triple bogeys.

“The highlight on the first day was bouncing back on No. 1 after a triple (two shots into the water) on No. 18,” Oregon coach Jim Spratt said. “Ben was real solid and consistent in his demeanor.”

Gardner played the back nine first each day, and struggled to a 43 on Friday before coming home in a sparkling 37. That left him in 27th place.

“It felt like I shot a 75,” Gardner said. “I made a lot of putts and was on in regulation quite a few times.My drives were very good and a few times I was less than 100 yards out.”

The winds picked up on Saturday, creating problems on the par-3 No. 12 where an errant shot was blown into the water. That produced a double bogey.

Another problem was taking drops a couple times after hitting carts paths. Shooting from an altered stance had an adverse effect.

“He kept grinding for a 44 on the back. He did a great job of hitting his woods on the second day,” Spratt said.

Known as a level headed golfer, Gardner rebounded to start the final nine with a par on the first hole.

Unfortunately, he got caught in a bunker on No. 2 and then hit a tree. Spraying his third shot eventually resulted in a triple bogey.

“He bounced back, though.” Spratt said. “He birdied no 4 and No. 6.”

Closing with a 42, Gardner was happy with his cumulative total of 166. Trey Timpe of Stockton was the medalist with a 1-over par 145.

“After the first day, my goal was to move down the ladder,” Gardner said. “I just had some bad luck.”

In the team competition, El Paso-Gridley took first at 647 strokes. Led by Joe Hanlin (163), Byron finished fourth place as a team with 659.

Nashville, who was in 10th place after Friday, improved by 18 shots on Saturday to edge Byron by one shot for the third place trophy. Defending champ North Shore Country Day was second at 656, the exact score Oregon’s lone state qualifying team had in 1996 when they took fifth.

Rockford Boylan, with medalist Danny Gorman (142), won the 2A meet. The BNC had the second andthird-place finishers in 2A. Matt Weber shot a 1-over 143 and Jordan Hahn of Richmond-Burton had a 146.

“At the conference meet, we were only three shots out of third place,” Spratt said. “Considering how good the BNC was this year, I’m very happy with our whole team.”

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