Skokie’s Nathaniel Lee finishes among leaders at Junior Amateur
Nathaniel Lee of Skokie drops a birdie putt on the 16th green during the IJGA-CDGA Junior Amateur tournament at Mill Creek Golf Course on Friday. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 10:57AM
GENEVA — Highland Park junior Patrick Flavin entered the third and final round of the IJGA-CDGA Junior Amateur at Mill Creek in Geneva five strokes off the lead, meaning he would need a huge final round to compete for the title.
As it turned out, Flavin did all he could on Friday to win the crown.
He shot a 2-under 69 in the final round, the best of the day, and tied for the lowest of the entire tournament. Since he was so far off the lead, however, he had to wait over an hour to see if his three-day total of 217 would stand.
“It was hard, but I just tried to keep my mind off it,” Flavin said. “I got a snack and I went and hit a couple putts. I knew there were a lot of great golfers behind me, but I thought I may have a chance.”
After everybody finally finished, Flavin wound up in a four-man playoff. All four players parred the first hole, No. 18, but St. Viator junior Robert Renner birdied the next hole, No. 1, to win the crown.
“It was awesome that I had a chance, but Robert deserved it, he made a good birdie to win it,” Flavin said. “I played really well today. I kept the ball in play and hit a lot of great shots. I rolled in four birdie putts, only two bogeys, so that was really good. Even though I didn’t get the win, it was lots of fun, a great experience. It’s a huge confidence booster. It means I can compete with the best players. Just making the cut and getting into a playoff at the end was just great.”
It’s hard to believe that New Trier graduate Ned Rohrbach just picked up the game last fall, after the high school season ended, but he played all three days as well. He finished tied for sixth, only two strokes off the lead, after his final-round 71.
“I just wanted to make the cut,” Rohrbach said. “Today, I knew I could shoot low, so I just came out and played my game.”
After playing baseball as a freshman and sophomore, Rohrbach didn’t make the team his junior year. He still had designs on playing baseball at Carleton College in Minnesota. But when he picked up golf and quickly learned he could compete, he changed his mind. He will head to Carleton in the fall, but now will be playing golf.
“I started playing in October and I’ve worked it every day since then,” Rohrbach said. “I knew I could. I’ve been a pretty good athlete. I’m just happy because golf is really great. I love it.”
New Trier sophomore Jack Junge, who is hoping to make a run at making the varsity squad for the Trevians this fall, was among the golfers tied with Rohrbach for sixth. He sandwiched a pair of 72s around a second-round 75 to arrive at his 219.
“This is the best I’ve ever done in a three-day tournament,” Junge said. “It’s a good field. My goal was to make the cut and I think anything in the top 10 would be great.”
New Trier junior David Brandfonbrener tied for 24th.
Niles West junior Nathaniel Lee found himself in the final group in the final day only one stroke off the lead with a two-day total of 144. But Lee struggled to a 77 to wind up tied for 13th. His final nine holes featured six bogeys.
“It seemed like today once I got a bogey, it just kept going,” Lee said. “I didn’t play any worse than I did the first two days. I just didn’t make putts or chip well. Coming into this week, I had a couple of swing problems, so shooting 71 and 73, even though I played bad this last day, it’s definitely encouraging.”