Whipping wind blows QND boys golf team’s chances off course in opening round at state
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Quincy Notre Dame boys golf coach Brian Hendrian was monitoring the barrage of birdies coming from the first wave of golfers to hit Prairie Vista Golf Course on Friday morning when he received a text message.
Michael Venvertloh’s father, Bruce, let Hendrian know his senior golfer had holed out for an eagle on the par-4 first hole to open the Class 1A state tournament.
The live scoring app confirmed it.
“I quickly go to the app and he’s 2-under through one. Holy smokes,” Hendrian said.
Suddenly, the Raiders seemed to have a realistic chance of contending.
Then came the wind that blew away such hope.
The Raiders struggled in gusty conditions, settled down over the closing holes and made just enough putts to survive. QND posted a 335 team total to tie for eighth with Beecher in the 12-team field and make the cut to play Saturday’s final round.
Sophomore Beau Eftink shot a 2-over 74 to lead the Raiders, while senior Konner Craven posted an 85, followed by senior Matthew Boudreau at 87 and Venvertloh at 89.
“I don’t know if in 38 years of playing and watching golf I have ever seen wind like that,” Hendrian said of winds that registered as strong as 30 mph in the early afternoon. “Really, the flagstick was barely staying in the hole.”
Effingham St. Anthony posted a 311 and leads Port Byron Riverdale by one stroke. Rockford Lutheran is third at 319, leaving the Raiders 16 strokes out of trophy contention. It’s a sizable deficit, but not unrecoverable if they handle the conditions a little better and catch a few more breaks.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Hendrian said. “It’s supposed to be colder tomorrow. It’s going to be windy, not quite as windy but still with a high of 20 mph winds. If we can figure out a way to go out there and play really well and shoot a 300 to a 305, who knows.
“We might need a little help, and if you get it, you might be able to backdoor your way onto the podium. If not, you’ve still finished really strong and made the most of the opportunity.”
If Venvertloh’s opening eagle didn’t serve as a proper omen, maybe Konner Craven’s 20-foot par putt on the final hole will carry the Raiders into Saturday.
Craven struggled in the middle of his round, playing Nos. 7-14 in 12-over, but he made par on the final four holes to post a 13-over 85, none bigger than a 20-foot par putt on the par-4 18th that enabled the Raiders to stay tied with Beecher.
A miss and Saturday plans change.
“He had a 20-footer on the last hole that if he doesn’t make it I’m watching Beau (Eftink) play by himself tomorrow,” Hendrian said. “It was a no-doubter. He walked up and hammered it in.”
Eftink will appreciate the company.
The QND sophomore played the back nine in even-par 36, making birdie on the par-5 16th to move himself into an individual tie for fifth place at 2-over 74. Eftink, who won both the regional and sectional individual titles, will try to become the second QND sophomore to medal at state.
Alex McCulla finished second in Class 2A as a sophomore in 2018.
“Beau played well, really well,” Hendrian said. “He really only hit one bad shot the entire day.”
Like his teammates, Eftink didn’t roll in many putts.
“We just didn’t putt well,” Hendrian said. “We didn’t make much.”
That could change over the final 18 holes.
“Get off to a good start and see what happens,” Hendrian said.
Eftink will not be the only area golfer chasing a state medal. West Hancock’s Brayson Smeltser is tied for 18th after shooting a 6-over 78 and is just two strokes out of eighth place. Pittsfield freshman Issac Mcglauthlen and Brown County senior Rioth Wort shot a 9-over 81 to make the cut.
Payson Seymour senior Aden Frese and Illini West senior Colby Robertson both advanced by shooting 11-over 83. Illini West junior Nick Bruns got through with a 13-over 85.
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