By Tim Cronin
The goal of any tournament director is to pair players of comparable ability, so all can enjoy the round even if they’re not in contention.
Christian Snyder wasn’t quite in that position in Wednesday’s Illinois Golfer Challenge Junior Golf Championship at Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood.
A fine player, happenstance paired him with a duo that failed to break 100.
No problem. Snyder, a 15-year-old from New Lenox, cruised around Glenwoodie in 4-over-par 76 and scored a two-stroke victory over Oak Forest’s Jack Dykema to claim the Marshall Dann Trophy.
“I just got to know the kids,” Snyder said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do in golf, have a good time.”
Snyder splashed three birdies on his card, including a brace on the 12th and 13th. It was on the 12th, the picturesque par-3 of 121 yards, that he nearly had a lifetime memory.
“Almost aced it,” Snyder said. “It was an 8-iron, the wind was left to right, the ball faded that way, and I heard it hit the pin.”
The two-footer for a deuce was followed by a birdie on the par-5 13th. Dykema, playing two groups behind, played those two holes in par-bogey, and the final five holes in 4-over to Snyder’s 2-over.
Snyder, going into his junior year at St. Rita, credits Mustangs coach Pete Godfrey for keeping his swing in the right place.
“When he sees something, he tells me right away,” Snyder said.
There was no reason for Godfrey to say anything but “Good job” on Wednesday.
Dykema’s 78 was solid from the start. He opened and closed the front nine with birdies and turned in 1-over 37, a stroke better than Snyder, but three 6s on his back-nine card, including a double-bogey on Glenwoodie’s signature 16th, dropped him into second place.
But for a rookie – and not just in the Challenge – it was a fine showing.
“I’ve played a lot the last few days, but I’ve never played in a tournament,” Dykema said. “I guess it was really fun today.”
The 40-foot birdie putt on the first hole was fun. So was the 12-footer on the ninth for a 3, set up by an approach from 70 yards. And, going into his freshman year at Wheaton Academy, where his dad will be an assistant coach, the expectation is of even more fun.
Kevin Healy of Evergreen Park took third, with a 12-over 84.
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