Photo by Bill Roseberry
Marquette golfers Michael Holtz and Kolten Bauer are enjoying successful summers. Holtz (left) holds his first-place trophy for his age group from the Illinois Optimist Tournament and his USGA invitation to the U.S. Junior Amateur after finishing second in the qualifying tournament. Bauer (right) holds his first-place trophy for his age group from the Illinois Optimist Tournament. Both linksters will play in national tourneys later this month.
Michael Holtz and Kolten Bauer of the Marquette Catholic High boys’ golf team are savoring a summer of fun.
They parlayed a weekend of success in Decatur into national youth competition. Both of them are participating in prestigious U.S. golf tournaments later this month.
Holtz, 17, a senior, will compete in the U.S. Junior Amateur starting July 18 in Ooltewah, Tenn. Then he will team with Bauer, 15, a sophomore, for action in the Optimist Junior Golf International championship. That gets going for Bauer on July 25 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Holtz expects to tee it up July 30 at the same venue — the PGA National Resort and Spa — home of the Honda Classic.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Holtz, the 2016 AdVantage News Male Prep Golfer of the Year. “The U.S. Junior Open is the biggest tournament I have played in so far.”
Bauer is equally eager to test his skills nationally.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’m excited to be going to Florida.”
Marquette coach Pat Moore lauded Holtz and Bauer for their summer success. And he foresees bigger and better things for both of them. They will join Nick Messinger, Jack Patterson and Duncan McLain as the chief players for the Explorers’ high-powered squad this fall.
“Their hard work and drive over the year are starting to show dividends for them,” Moore said. “I know they are extremely excited about their play and their accomplishments.”
He added, “The summer tournaments that they are playing in are very important in being recognized by college coaches as they follow these showcases much more than just the regular season for their particular high school.”
Moore noted, “These boys are doing everything right in pursuing their next goal as to signing with a university to showcase their skills and be successful in all they do.
“I’m very proud and excited for Michael and Kolten with their success and hope they save some of that magic for the fall season. I also hope they get to show it all off up at Bloomington and the state finals.”
Bauer and Holtz demonstrated their talents earlier this year during the Illinois Optimist Tournament at the Red Tail Course near Decatur. Holtz shot a 214, including a round of 68, to win his age bracket in the state tournament. Bauer carded a 149 to finish first in his age group.
Holtz’ victory continued his string of strong play since the end of the school year. He finished first in Flight A (the non-Metro Cup Series competition) at the Godfrey Open. Marquette grad Shane Smith claimed Metro Cup honors at Rolling Hills.
“It was really exciting to win at Rolling Hills,” Holtz said. “I’ve worked with Shane a lot and he has really helped me getting where I need to be. He talked to me about being mentally tough and taking one shot at a time.”
Then Holtz finished second among 154 players at the USGA Junior Amateur in Eureka, Mo. That runner-up spot in the 36-hole event qualifier earned him the trip to Tennessee for the U.S. Junior Amateur on The Honors Course.
“Overall, I’ve never played this well,” said Holtz, pointing to marked improvement with his game. “I’ve really been working on the mental side of my game. I think I have better course management and I’m playing smarter golf.”
You can find Holtz and Bauer working daily on their game at Rolling Hills. It’s their home away from home and they are benefiting from Jim Rohan’s instruction.
“He has really helped us with the golfing side of things and been instrumental for both of us,” Bauer said of the local golf guru.
The Florida trip means plenty to Bauer, who is beginning to come into his own after just one season of high school competition.
“It’s one of the biggest events I’ve played in … it’s right up there with playing in the team world championship at Pinehurst, N.C., in 2013,” he said.
Once both Explorers conclude their summer golf, they will aim to guide the team deep in IHSA Class 2A competition. Marquette snared a regional championship last fall and took third in sectional competition before finishing seventh at state. Belleville Althoff placed sixth in 2015 and figures to be one of the Explorers’ main foes this year.
“We definitely could be up there again this year,” Bauer said of state play, set for the D.A. Weibring Course in Normal, the home course for Illinois State University. The IHSA finals run Oct. 14-15.
“I think we can be a major state contender,” he said.
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