HOMER GLEN – Jack Mulligan double-bogeyed Old Oak Country Club’s par 4 11th hole in Monday’s Class 3A sectional.
The Homewood-Flossmoor sophomore had gone out in 3-over-par 39, and would have to pick up the pace on the back nine to assure himself of one of the 10 individual spots available for the weekend’s IHSA state championship.
A stylish chip to three feet to assure himself a par on the par-3 16th was a big help. Another par on the par-4 17th was reassuring.
But when he hammered his second shot on the 370-yard par-4 18th over the back of the green and into fescue, things looked bleak.
They looked bleaker when his chip shot from the high stuff came up short of the green.
Then he made the next one, chipping in for a par, a 3-over 38 on the back, and a 6-over 77.
“It was an interesting way to end the round,” Mulligan said.
And then Mulligan waited. Other scores began to trickle in. It became evident that Glenbrook North (293), New Trier (301) and Evanston Township (306) would claim the three team spots, so the sub-77 scores on those teams wouldn’t affect Mulligan’s chances.
But there was a 72, a pair of 75s and then a third, a couple of 76s and a 77, Whitney Young junior Conor Dore matching Mulligan. Then Orion Yamat’s 1-under 70 went on the board, locking the Maine East junior into a spot. What else would be out there?
“It was like this last year,” Mulligan said, checking the scoreboard every couple of minutes. Mulligan made it last year, firing an 80 at Winnetka Golf Club.
Finally, there were only four scores missing. The final group’s numbers were being tabulated. They were in the 90s and up. Mulligan, by virtue of his chip-in par, was in without worrying about a playoff at 78.
Now he can think about playing the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington, an Arnold Palmer design that weaves between homes but catches the wind off the prairie as well.
“It’s exciting to make it again,” Mulligan said. “At the Den, you’ve got to be able to control your ball flight. The wind really blows down there.”
Mulligan said it was his short game – as evidenced on the final hole – and putting that brought him in with the 77, and that his driving was below standard on Monday. He’ll have to bring it back before Friday’s first round.
Mulligan was the only area player to advance. Marian Catholic’s Ryan Kelly scored 10-over 81, and was three strokes out of the playoff. As teams, Homewood-Flossmoor (331), Marian (338) and Mount Carmel (366) were all well off the pace.
Glenbrook North senior Nick Hardy won the individual title with a 5- under-par 66, which, while from the middle tees rather than the tips, was only a stroke off Mark Hannon’s four-year-old course record 65. He was four shots clear of Yamat, the only other player under par.
Many players were vexed by devilish pin placements on the eighth and 15th holes, which made the par-4s play much higher. The eighth, with the cup on the edge of a slope, recorded numerous four-putts, a five- putt, a seven-putt and an eight-putt. Then there was Marian’s Sean Bready. He breezed through the last three holes of the front side with a trio of birdies.
“I was on the right side, four or five feet away, with a lot of left- to-right break,” Bready said of his birdie on the eighth. Trouble on the back nine left Bready at 86, eight strokes out of the playoff.