By KEVIN HARRIS
For the second day in a row, the Floyd Central boys’ golf team posted another impressive team score at the IHSAA State Finals on Wednesday at The Legends Golf Club. In fact, the Highlanders’ score was four shots lower than their first-round 292 on Tuesday.
However, third-ranked Floyd Central came up short of winning its third state championship.
The Highlanders fired a final-round team score of 288 on Wednesday, as they ended up with a two-round total of 4-over-par 580 to finish third in the 77th annual state finals.
Fourth-ranked Westfield won its first state title with a two-round score of 575, which set a new 36-hole tournament record. The Shamrocks sealed the state crown with a second-round score of 284, which was the third-lowest 18-hole score in state finals history.
Floyd Central coach Mike Cason said putting was the determining factor in his team not bringing home another state championship trophy to Floyds Knobs.
“It was just a little bit of putting,” Cason said. “[Westfield] made putts coming [into the clubhouse] and we didn’t. That was really the difference.”
No. 1 Columbus North finished two shots behind Westfield with a two-round 577 to wind up second, posting a 287 in the final round.
In one of the best-played state finals in tournament history, the Shamrocks, Bull Dogs and Highlanders posted the top three 36-hole team scores of all-time. Floyd Central’s 288 on Wednesday was the sixth-best 18-hole score in state finals history.
Cason gave a few reasons why the state finals record book got rearranged the past two days.
“Obviously, the course played easier this year than it has in the past. We would’ve won by 31 shots last year if we would’ve shot ,” he said. “The course was playing fairly easy and conditions are big in golf, but also there were some great golfers this year. A lot of these teams are really good.”
The Highlanders nearly collected two state championship trophies on Wednesday afternoon.
Floyd Central’s Devin Jenkins fell one stroke short of winning individual medalist honors by firing a 3-under 69 in the final round. Jenkins wound up with a two-round total of 137 (7-under), while Zionsville junior Adam Wood got the medalist award with an 8-under 136.
Wood, who has verbally committed to Duke University, shot a 4-under 68 for the second consecutive round on Wednesday. According to the Polo Rankings, Wood is the sixth-ranked high school-aged golfer in the world. His 136 tied former Columbus North standout Tyler Duncan, who won state medalist honors in 2007, for the second-best 18-hole score in state finals history.
Jenkins’ 137 ranked high in the state record books as well. The senior’s two-round score is tied for the third lowest 18-hole score in state finals history. His score was three strokes lower than last year’s medalist score (140) by Evansville Harrison’s Sean Stone.
Jenkins’ score would have either won or forced a playoff in 39 of the past 42 state tournaments. It was announced after the tournament that Jenkins had made the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association All-State team.
“He got off to a bad start and then he played awesome the rest of the way,” Cason said.
Jenkins’ lone blemish came on the par-4 first hole, where he made a double bogey.
“It was kind of unfortunate,” Jenkins said. “I hooked [the tee shot] a little bit and it kicked into the heather. I found [the ball] and I tried to play it out to the fairway, but it bounced through the fairway and went under a pine tree. So I had to punch it out again. I hit it on the green and two-putted.”
Jenkins regrouped after that. He made birdies on five of the next 10 holes. The birdies came on the second, sixth, ninth, 10th and 11th holes.
“My mindset was just to get back to even-par and try to get at least a score that would give the team a chance to win,” Jenkins said. “I started making some birdies. My goal was the same as [Tuesday], which was to get as low as possible.”
After his final birdie, Jenkins closed out his round with seven consecutive pars. But he could not sink any birdies in the final seven holes to either win or force a playoff with Wood.
Jenkins’ best chance for birdie in the closing holes was on the par-5 15th, where he missed a 7-foot birdie putt. He also did not make a short birdie putt on the par-4 17th.
Jenkins said he had no knowledge about Wood’s score during the final holes. All he concentrated on down the stretch was firing a low score.
“I knew there was a chance I would be close to [being state champion],” Jenkins said. “But I had no idea where Adam was or anybody else. All I knew was what the people in my group were shooting. I was just playing.”
Jenkins came up short of being the second state medalist in Highlander history. Current Floyd Central girls’ golf coach Lenny Hartlage earned medalist honors at the 1983 state finals for the Highlanders.
Floyd Central senior Alex Beyer finished in a four-way tie for 18th place with a two-round score of 145. Beyer shot a 74 in the final round.
Highlander senior Daniel Shepard fired an even-par 72 on Wednesday to end up with a 3-over 147. He finished in a seven-way tie for 24th.
Highlander junior Jack Sparrow carded a 1-over 73 in the final round, as he wound up with a two-round 151. Fellow Floyd Central junior Connor Welch had a two-round score of 157 after shooting a 79 in the final round.
Cason praised Sparrow — his No. 4 golfer — for stepping up his game on Wednesday with his 73.
“We were looking for somebody to step up,” Cason said. “Jack’s a great player. He struggled a little bit this year, but he really played well today.”
Providence’s Mitchell Allender concluded his second state finals appearance on a bang. The sophomore shot a 1-under 71 to finish the tournament with a 3-over 147. Allender ended up in the seven-way tie for 24th place with Shepard.
Starting on the back nine, Allender began his round with a bogey on the 10th hole. But he rebounded with a birdie on No. 11 and then made seven straight pars to finish the back side with an even-par 36.
Following four consecutive pars to start the front nine, Allender birdied the fifth hole. After bogeying No. 6, Allender ended his round with a par on the seventh hole, a birdie on the eighth and a par on the ninth. He shot a 1-under 35 on the front side.
The main difference between Allender’s final round and his first-round 76 on Tuesday was he finished stronger on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Allender had a chance to post even-par, but he made a bogey and a triple bogey on his final two holes.
“Today, towards the end, I didn’t get nervous or freak out. I just kind of kept my composure,” Allender said. “I really didn’t think about my score and how well I was doing. I just kept playing.”
Providence coach and Allender’s father, Ken Allender, liked the way his son capped off the final round.
“He just finished the round off well,” Ken Allender said. “He got to the [eighth] hole in about the same position he was in [on Tuesday]. I just walked by him and we had a talk about just staying confident and whatever club he picked to play it and swing it. He hit two good tee shots on [No. 8 and No. 9] and made birdie [on No. 8].”
Avon senior Brad Patz won the Fred A. Keesling Mental Attitude Award.
IHSAA STATE FINALS
At The Legends Golf Club, Franklin, par 72
Team scores: Westfield 575 (291-284), Columbus North 577 (290-287), Floyd Central 580 (292-288), Jasper 591 (295-296), Noblesville 592 (309-283), Avon 594 (294-300), Hamilton Southeastern 604 (304-300), Fort Wayne Dwenger 604 (302-302), Evansville Memorial 604 (300-304), Pendleton Heights 608 (308-300), Carmel 611 (306-305), Valparaiso 612 (300-312), Terre Haute North 615 (311-304), Triton 617 (313-304), Warsaw 619 (306-313).
Medalist: Adam Wood (Zionsville) 136 (68-68).
Floyd Central: Devin Jenkins 137 (68-69), Alex Beyer 145 (71-74), Daniel Shepard 147 (75-72), Jack Sparrow 151 (78-73), Connor Welch 157 (78-79).
Providence: Mitchell Allender 147 (76-71).