BOYS GOLF

Thin to win? Illiana's Massey hopes so

2013-10-07T19:00:00Z 2014-07-29T19:20:18Z Thin to win? Illiana's Massey hopes soPhil Arvia Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 07, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

By his own admission, Illiana Christian golfer Steven Massey is "pretty scrawny."

At 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, the junior doesn't strike fear into the hearts of many foes. Until he hits the ball.

"I've got a big swing arc," he said. "I swing the club pretty fast — like 110 miles per hour."

Yep, pretty fast. The PGA Tour average last year, according to widely-referenced Trackman stats, was 112 mph.

As a result, Massey hits a big ball, driving it, he guessed, around 280 yards on average.

"I'm usually longer than the other players in my group," he said.

Length alone hasn't catapulted Massey, a sometime varsity player as a sophomore on a 2012 Illiana team that qualified for the state meet, into a solid No. 2 on this year's varsity.

"I've usually got a pretty good short game," he said. "I can bail myself out when I get in trouble with my other shots — which I often do."

Things were working well for Massey — and the Vikings as a whole — at last week's Metro Suburban Conference tournament. Illiana finished second behind Glenbard South, matching last year's team result, with Matthew Zandstra (80), Tony Dykstra (83) and Massey (84) all in the top 10 at the Sanctuary in New Lenox.

"I didn't play that great, but I was happy to medal," Massey said.

To hear Vikings coach Jack Rudenga tell it, it's tough to tell whether Massey is displeased or delighted on the golf course — a trait the 36-year Illiana employee appreciates in a golfer.

"He and Matthew have been playing together all year, and it's good for both of them," he said. "Steven has a very good tempo. He doesn't get too emotional at all. He's very even-keel. ... That's exactly what you want in a golfer."

Last year, Zandstra was a freshman playing beside five seniors at state for Illiana. He posted the team's second-best score on the first day of play, and Day 2 was washed out.

Tuesday at the Class 2A Oak Forest Sectional at George W. Dunne National, the Vikings start their march toward a return engagement.

Last season, Illiana finished second to the host school at the Chicago Christian Regional, posting a 326 total to the winners' 321. The Vikings were again second to the hosts at the sectional, four shots behind Nazareth's 318 — while Chicago Christian skied to a 351.

That kind of volatility might be why Massey was hesitant to forecast a Vikings return to state.

"We have a really good chance to make it out of regionals as a team," Massey said. "At Sectionals, we're really going to have to step it up."

Sort of like Massey has done all season.

The Lansing resident received his first full set of clubs the summer before his freshman year. A shortstop and pitcher for Illiana's baseball team, his natural athleticism and some coaching from his father — a varsity golfer in his days at T.F. South — carried him until the summer.

"I started taking lessons with a pro this year," he said. "I've had, like, three."

Rudenga has seen the results. Massey's scoring average for nine holes over the regular season was 41.8, and his 18-hole average is 82.8. His low round of the season was 78 at the Providence Catholic Invitational.

It took a round of 82 to qualify as an individual out of Illiana's sectional last year.

"He really has played well," Rudenga said. "Better than what I expected.

"If he's putting, he has a chance to do really well for us."

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