April 16 – O’Fallon, MO – Lafayette High School’s Dillon Eaton posted a 2-under par, 70 to lead the Lafayette Lancers to a first place finish at the 2015 Bulldog Battle at WingHaven presented by Welsch Heating and Cooling.
The weather was gorgeous for the 23 high school teams competing on the Nicklaus Design, WingHaven Country Club. While it’s still early in the spring golf season for agronomists, Golf Course Superintendent Brent Rockwell had WingHaven Country Club in fantastic shape for the tournament hosted by Ft. Zumwalt South.
Lafayette earned the top spot in both the individual and team standings. Lafayette Senior, Dillon Eaton, may have set the pace for the field and the Lancers, but it was solid efforts by Conrad Maloney (78), Jake Williams (79) and Riley Katsey (80) that ultimately allowed Lafayette to capture the team title with a score of 307.
Playing in one of the tournaments feature groups, alongside Marquette High School’s Frankie Thomas, CBC’s Nick Barks and Troy’s Kyle Sachs, Dillon Eaton got off to a rather slow start. A bogey on the 1st hole, followed by 3 pars and another bogey on the par 5, 5th hole left Eaton 3 shots behind his playing partner, Thomas approaching the par 4, 6th.
Eaton would get one back on the 6th, taking advantage of a long tee shot on the 416 yard par 4, converting a 12 foot birdie putt.
Andy Delehaunty, boys golf coach at Ft. Zumwalt South, gave the players an option on the short par 4, 7th hole. Tee markers were moved up making the hole play 303 yards, tempting the players to go for the green and also bring a big number into play on a seemingly easy hole. Eaton took the bait and knocked his tee shot on the front portion of the green, leaving 25 feet for eagle. Unfortunately for Eaton his first putt rolled past about 6 feet and his missed the comeback attempt, forcing the Lafayette Senior to settle for a disappointing par.
After a routine par 4 on the 9th hole, Eaton tallied his second birdie of the day on the par 4, 10th. He then ran off three consecutive pars before dropping a 40 foot birdie on the par 4, 14th, grabbing a one shot advantage over Marquette’s Thomas who lipped out his birdie effort from 15 feet.
Both Eaton and Thomas made pars on the short par 3, 15th hole before approaching another key decision point on the Nicklaus Design Championship Golf Course. The par 5, 16th hole plays 507 yards and presents the players an option of challenging a narrow opening in the fairway or laying back into a much wider landing area, but forcing the players to play the hole as a 3 shot hole.
Eaton opted to position his tee ball into that safer area, leaving approximately 315 yards to the green protected in front by a creek. Thomas took a riskier line and pulled his tee shot right of the fairway bunkers, leaving himself a difficult layup shot into the narrow fairway protected by heavy trees on the right and a lateral hazard on the left. Eaton’s layup found the fairway, while Thomas’ shot ran through the fairway into the lateral hazard.
Eaton’s approach shot went slightly past pin high, leaving 16 feet for birdie. Thomas hit a solid approach to 12 feet, but his putt would be for par, whereas Eaton was attempting to card his 4th birdie on the day. Eaton would make his putt and Thomas would narrowly miss, giving Eaton a 3 shot margin over Thomas.
While Thomas and Eaton were enjoying a friendly battle as part of their pairing, by no means did bettering Thomas guarantee Eaton medalist honors at this years tournament. The field was loaded with young emerging Freshmen and Sophomores and experienced players who will be expecting to compete for post season honors in just a few weeks. Eaton’s job was far from over as he stood on the difficult par 4, 17th at 2-under par on the day.
While Eaton challenged the par 4, 7th hole earlier in the day, when presented a similar opportunity on the 17th hole he opted for the safer route. Coach Delehaunty had again moved the tee markers up to create a risk / reward opportunity for the players turning 17 into a 271 par 4, over a hazard. After a successful layup and approach shot, Eaton would settle for his par. After making another par on the 18th, Eaton had posted the low round of the day at 2-under, 70.
Marquette’s Frankie Thomas would finish at 1-over, 73. Playing partners, Nick Barks posted 75 and Kyle Sachs, 78.
|Blake Porter||Francis Howell||72||4|