MOUNT VERNON — Playing in his final Hiawatha Juniors Tournament, Mount Vernon golfer Tim “T.T.” Crouch made it a memorable one on Thursday. Crouch fired a 71 at Hiawatha Golf Course to win the 16- to 18-year-old Division, and become the first to win five straight Hiawatha Juniors titles.
For Crouch, whose family owns the course, it was important to put together a good showing.
“I just wanted to play well today since this is my home course,” said Crouch. “I felt like I owed this to my family, the golf course and coach (Kent) Miller. I wanted to come out and play well, which I did. It boosted my confidence for sure.
“I only missed two greens all day, but I didn’t putt very well. All in all, I did pretty well. I’m happy with it.”
Crouch fired a 35 on the front nine, and followed it up with a 36 on the back nine. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however.
“The greens were really challenging,” said Crouch. “I didn’t putt very well, and I haven’t in my last few tournaments. I’m hitting the ball fine. I just need to putt a little bit better.”
Crouch was followed up by Matt O’Hara (38-39—77), Matt Miely (37-41—78) and Judd Milhon (39-41—80). Aaron O’Hara (41-43—84) rounded out the top five.
“I played well,” said O’Hara. “I didn’t hit some shots like I wanted to, but I hit the ball very hard. ... The greens were really tough. The conditions stayed about the same. It was overcast, so nothing really ever dried out and that made it difficult.”
The next five finishers were Derek Hastings (45-40—85) and Andrew Wyatt (41-44—85), Jared Hale (41-46—87), Luke Hassenpflug (50-50—100) and Tyler Pridgen (60-62—122).
Crouch has been busy already this summer. He just finished playing a three-day tournament on Wednesday, so coming back to play Hiawatha was a welcomed change.
“Coming back to Hiawatha makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” Crouch said. “I can see where I am at with my game, and see what I need to work on. Hiawatha really helps my confidence; it helps build me back up after I get beat down at these other tournaments.”
In the 13- to 15-year-old Division, Andrew Amore edged Adam O’Hara by one stroke, 83-84. For Amore (42-41), winning the Hiawatha Juniors title was important.
“This feels pretty good,” said Amore of Upper Arlington. “All of the hard work I’ve put in over the winter and spring is finally paying off. ... I just wanted to get a trophy.”
Hiawatha proved to be a challenge for Amore, who was playing the course for the first time.
“A couple of the holes were really challenging,” Amore said. “You really had to hit it straight and attack the greens. ... The course was a little wet in some spots, a little standing water, but it wasn’t too bad.
“The approach shots were the toughest for me. I got the yardage mixed up because of the elevated greens.”
Following O’Hara (43-41) were Robert Williams (43-44—87), Devin Presley (43-48—91) and Chase Springer (45-47—92). The next group of five included Luke Earnest (49-46—95), Park Lukich (45-52—97), Phillip Mann (47-51—98), Luke Ervin (51-59—110) and Jakob Cramer (65-54—119).
Brayden Baldridge defended his title in the 10- to 12-year-old Division. Baldridge, who shot a 95 to win the title in 2009, fired an 87 on Thursday. Baldridge (43-44) beat his closest competition, Bailey Tear, by five strokes.
“I’m very excited to win,” said Baldridge. “I didn’t play my best. I mean, I played all right, but I could have played better. ... The course was pretty tough. The greens were slower than I thought they’d be. I hit everything pretty good, except for putting. I didn’t do that very well.”
Tear (43-49) improved by 18 strokes over his 2009 finish to earn runner-up honors. Jacob Crowe was third at 106 (50-56); Hunter Blubaugh fourth (56-58—114); Logan Springer fifth (60-56—116); Collin Lybarger was sixth (66-58—124); and Sammy Wirth, playing in his first tournament and only second time golfing overall, shot a 128 (56-72) for seventh.
For Hiawatha Juniors Tournament director Kent Miller, seeing No. 16 through was a good accomplishment. Numbers were down over past years, but the overall scores were as well.
“We had some decent individuals,” said Miller. “We had some players come up from Columbus, and they performed well in their first time here. I would have liked to have seen more players from Mount Vernon, obviously, and more players from the county. I was a little disappointed in that, but there are a lot of junior tournaments and people are busy. That part was disappointing, but we had some outstanding play. Brayden Baldridge played well; he had a nice total. Obviously, T.T. played well despite being a little tired. He just got back from playing in the three-day Hudson Junior Tournament, and had three tough days. The field was a little smaller than we had liked, but overall it was a good tournament.”