Chasing the orange jacket
La PORTE — Save for one stroke, Nick Gushrowski might’ve been able to wear the trademark orange Uebele jacket to the Michigan City prom.
The Wolves junior, who chose to play in Friday’s tournament and go late to the prom, while some teammates chose dress shoes over golf spikes, bogeyed the 18th hole. The brief slip left him with a 75, a single shot behind Penn’s Basil Furry, who claimed medalist honors at Beechwood.
“Heading into 17, I thought I would need to pick up at least one shot to have a chance, and I did,” Gushrowski said. “I knocked it to about three inches and I tapped it in. I got up to 18 and I just couldn’t hit the shots.”
Even a magical round with the putter — Gushrowski needed just 23 shots with the short blade on the afternoon — couldn’t pull out a par on 18, where he had about 35 feet going downhill to save par.
“Most of my chip shots, I was knocking them up to about four, five feet,” he said. “I was hitting it right on my line. I had perfect speed. I’ve been practicing about an hour, two hours a day the past couple weeks. It’s finally starting to come around. It’s just trusting my line. I struggle with eye sight a lot when I’m looking at the putter face. It’s hard to make sure I’m lined up correctly, but I hit it on my line every time and I was seeing the ball go in.”
Even at the half way point, Gushrowski settled for a 39 on the back.
“The back nine got a little bit tougher than the front. It was hard to manage,” he said. “My driving definitely hurt me. I only hit like five greens. My driver was all right on the front, but 10, 11, 12, even 17, it got away from me. There were a couple holes I definitely left shots out there I could have saved, but other holes I saved shots I shouldn’t have. It was a solid round.”
Recurring lower back issues plagued La Porte’s Max Holmes, who gutted out an 80 (eighth place).
“It’s killing me,” Holmes said. “The cold didn’t help much. It took until about hole 16 to finally get loosened up. By then, it’s too late. I hope I don’t have to, but the way it’s been going, I’m probably going to have to deal with it the rest of the season. It hurt worse today than it has all year. I probably shouldn’t have played yesterday, but I played anyway. I’ve been playing the whole week.”
The regular regimen of pre-round heat and during-round Aleve didn’t ease the issue for Holmes.
“It felt like (100),” he said. “It really shows I need to work on my driver, chipping and putting. I couldn’t do anything around the greens, I struggled getting off the tee. My ball striking was terrible. The shots I missed, I missed in the right places, which helped getting around the course easier. I just couldn’t get anything going. It took me a few holes to figure out the greens. I struggled with my six-, seven-foot par putts at the beginning. I finally got those rolling at the end. That’s what saved me.”
Penn topped Lake Central, 313-321, for top spot among the 24 teams in the field. Valparaiso (324) was fourth and LP led the county contingent at 358, followed by La Lumiere (371). Joe Harkness turned in an 83 for the Lakers. Marquette, minus No. 1 golfer Michael Sakich (wisdom teeth), posted a 405, one shot ahead of the prom-depleted Wolves with New Prairie totaling 421 and LaCrosse 509.
“Hitting under 360 was a target for us,” Slicers coach Eric Wozniak said. “I’m happy with 358. It’s not an accurate measure with Michigan City. They had a lot of their JV here. Marquette beat us at Sandy Pines and beat us our first match, so I like the progress.”
Graham Siefker, playing the fifth spot, notched an 88 and Mason Jones a 92 to back Holmes. Siefker matched his career best for 18 holes and it was his low round at Beechwood. It was a personal-best 18 for Jones.
“For (Holmes) to come out and shoot an 80, that helps us tremendously,” Wozniak said. “I’m really, really proud of Graham. That really tied it all together and propelled us. He’s had a couple bad rounds, but he made up for it. It just goes to prove, when you’re down, you bounce back. When his drives get going, he’s more comfortable, and his drives were on. I’m really proud of Mason. He was our No. 6 JV most of his season, then he started surging. He qualified for Uebele and he was excited about it. He really embodies the tradition. That was big.”