EDWARDSVILLE — The Edwardsville Tigers and Marquette Catholic Explorers are poised for memorable boys' golf seasons.
So when the two programs' schedules showed an open date, it was a no-brainer for the two squads to square off. The Tigers earned bragging rights on Tuesday, staving off the hard charging Explorers, carding a 155 to Marquette's 163 at Fox Creek Golf Course in Edwardsville.
In previous tournament matchups this season, the Explorers edged the Tigers 298 to 302 at the Alton Tee Off Classic on Aug. 16 and then each team shot 293 at the Madison County Meet on Aug. 18. It's now been three different events with three different outcomes.
“Marquette is arguably the best team in the area, so any opportunity that we get to play a team that good, it brings out the best in us,” EHS coach Adam Tyler said. “Today we played the course long and it played very tough, so you’re going to see some higher scores from both teams. We saw what the kids could do out here and they played really well.”
Junior Tanner White garnered medalist honors, firing a 1-over-par 37, edging teammate Ben Tyrrell and Michael Holtz of the Explorers who each carded a 38.
White lives near Fox Creek and maybe had more familiarity of the neutral course than any of the other linksters on Tuesday, but didn't recognize that as much of an advantage. Part of that was because he was sick.
“I play here every once in awhile, but I came into today not feeling great,” White said. “Throughout the middle of the school day I had a stomach ache and today with the heat it was tough, but I just wanted to get out there and play loose and fluent. I wanted to hit fairways, hit greens and make as many putts as I could and things just worked out for me today. I'm getting into a good groove.”
Tyler was pleased with the way White performed, especially considering he was a little under the weather.
“He's capable of shooting that, but today he was sick and for him to come out here and shoot that with the heat and not feeling well says a lot about his character and how good of a player he can be,” Tyler said.
Joining White and Tyrrell in the scoring for Edwardsville were: Luke Babington (39) and Spencer Patterson and Jon Ratterman each with a 41. Kyle Hylla (47) rounded out the lineup.
The Explorers got their scoring from Holtz, Nick Messinger (40), Jack Patterson (41) and Duncan McLain (44). The rest of the Marquette lineup rounded out with Sam Cogan (50) and Kolten Bauer who withdrew due to injury after seven holes.
Bauer tweaked his neck and shoulder which is hindering his swing a little bit.
“He woke up the other day from sleeping wrong and it's a tight muscle and just nagging him,” Marquette head coach Pat Moore said. “When I heard what he was doing on certain holes I was like, 'You're done.' It doesn't matter who it's against or not, it's about the health of the kid and him being able to do this in late September, early October when I need him.”
As much as it is nice to battle a top echelon program, the opportunity to play on a challenging and new course like Fox Creek may have even been more of a benefit.
“It's nice to play a different course in the area,” Moore said. “They've played this course, but not in a high school match. It's a difficult course and maybe that's why some players stay away from it. It's a great course because you get to work on all of your shots and you have everything... When you play hard courses you see how the players strive.”
Tuesday was just a strong mental test for all the golfers with the toughness of the course combined with the competitiveness of the opponent.
“They're a great school and we've been battling with them throughout the years that I've played high school golf,” White said. “It is mentally straining throughout the round because every stroke really does matter. The chip shot you hit within five feet and you didn't get up and down, those strokes matter. When you're playing with people who are good you tend to play up to their level too, so we kind of feed off of each other. I love playing them, they're a great competitor.”
Now EHS will turn its focus to the Mattoon Invitational and the Providence Catholic Invitational this weekend. It will split its squad and compete in both events.
The Explorers turn their attention to crosstown rival Alton at 4 p.m. today at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey and then will also compete in the Mattoon Invite over the weekend.