MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School golf team kicked off the 2009 season by hosting the Mount Vernon Country Club Classic on Monday. Facing some of the top competition in the state, the Yellow Jackets finished in a tie for third place, carding a team total 314.
Dublin Jerome, runner-up in Division I a year ago, won the event with a 304. St. Charles took second at 310, and Division I defending state champion St. Xavier tied Mount Vernon at 314. St. Xavier won by the fifth score. Upper Arlington rounded out the top five with a 324.
“I am definitely happy. Today, the conditions were kind of tough,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Fuller. “It was windy; the greens were fast, the pin placements were tough. The competition was great; we’re talking several of the top teams in the state were here today. Dublin Jerome is a three-time state champion and two-time runner-up, last year’s defending champion was St. Xavier and St. Charles placed third last year at state. It was a tough field, and only four teams broke 320 today. I’ve got to feel happy with how we played.”
It looked for a while that there might be a four- or five-way playoff for medalist honors. Mount Vernon’s T.T. Crouch and Charlie Phillips, along with St. Charles’ Alex Carpenter and St. Xavier’s Smith Brinker, each carded a one-over-par 73. New Albany’s Mark Folkwein came into the clubhouse with a 72, however, to take the top spot.
The four golfers tied at 73 then had a playoff for second place, and Crouch came through on the first playoff hole — No. 9. Crouch sank a tough putt to birdie the hole, while the other three parred.
“I just kept telling myself to put a good stroke on it,” said Crouch. “I didn’t want to leave it short. That’s all I thought about. If it went in, it went in. If it didn’t, it didn’t.”
Overall, Crouch fired a 34 on the front nine and a 39 on the back. Phillips was a little more even, shooting a 36 on the front and a 37 on the back.
“We got two low scores, which was good,” said Crouch. “We didn’t play our best, but we still came in the top four. ... I played OK. I missed a couple of easy putts, but other than that, I hit the ball great.”
“I had a good round; I missed a few putts and hit a couple of bad shots, but it wasn’t too bad,” said Phillips. “I felt like I had a little more pressure on me. This is my home course. ... I think it helped because I didn’t have to think as much. I just kind of came out and did it.”
Brody Harwell fired a 39 on the front and a 44 on the back to finish at 83 for Mount Vernon. Alex Ashbrook carded Mount Vernon fourth keeper score, shooting a 44-41-85. Aaron O’Hara rounded out the Jackets’ scoring with a 45-48-93, but his score was dropped in favor of Ashbrook’s.
“T.T. and Charlie set the tone for us today,” Fuller said. “They played well. Brody and Alex’s scores were a little higher, but with the conditions today, Brody probably shoots a 77 or 78 normally, and Alex shoots about 78 or 79, so I am happy.”
Mount Vernon’s varsity B team also competed Monday, finishing with a team total of 347. David March led the way with an 82. Matt O’Hara carded an 84; Cole McDonough shot an 87; Dom DiGuilio finished with a 94; and Zach Harris shot a 95.
For Mount Vernon, getting teams to come here is half the battle. This invitational has grown each year, and with the help of the Mount Vernon Country Club, it is beginning to attract strong competition.
“Once we get teams out here and they see the course, they love it,” said Fuller. “We’ve been trying to get some of the top teams in the state here. Everybody that is good wants good competition, and we’ve been able to have that. ... They all got it today. It was a great course, and I think everyone went home happy.
“This is a good way to get started,” added Fuller. “Last year, St. Xavier won here and went on to win the state title. Jerome was runner-up last year, and they were runner-up at state. St. Charles was fifth and they were fifth in the state last year. So if it holds true, Jerome will win state, and Mount Vernon will finish third. Maybe it’s an omen.”
Mount Vernon is back in action today, traveling to Avon to take part in the St. Ignatius Invitational at Red Tail Golf Club. Another strong showing could go a long way for the Jackets’ confidence.
“This was a good warm-up tournament for [today],” said Crouch. “St. Ignatius is called the ‘State Preview’ so this will help. It was a good way to start.”