Local golfers qualify for Florida
Koch, Tyer shoot 76s, Davis 78 in Optimist district tournament
Tyler Koch had an unusual and interesting day at the Maryland-South Delaware District of Optimist International Tournament on Saturday at Marlton Golf Course in Upper Marlboro.
The 2016 La Plata High School graduate thought he had missed qualifying for the International Junior Golf Championships at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., when he shot a 5-over-par 76 to finish in a second-place tie in the boys 16- to 18-year-old age group.
But the Issue resident later found out that John Schindler, who won with a 73, was found to have played out of district. That paved the way for Koch to punch his ticket to Florida.
“I played out well though it really wasn’t what I wanted or expected, but it ended up working out and I’m looking forward to heading back for sure,” said Koch, who will be making his third trip to the tournament after qualifying in 2011 and 2014. “It was just a very weird series of events and I never like finishing second, so it was like a win and a loss at the same time, I guess.”
North Point rising sophomore Trent Tyer will also compete in Florida after carding a 76 to beat runner-up Ryan McFadden by two strokes.
“Yeah, I honestly can’t wait,” Tyer said. “I know it’s going to be a wonderful experience to go and yeah, I’m very happy. I haven’t played as much as I’ve wanted to this year, but under those circumstances and with Florida on the line it just felt good to be able to shoot that score.”
Chase Cooper of Waldorf also qualified when he won the boys 10-11 age group with a 90.
In the girls division, Bailey Davis of White Plains finished with a 78 to defeat Jenny Hug by three strokes and win the 13-14 age group.
“I realized what I could qualify for and I really wanted to go to Florida, so I just tried my best to get back to my regular game,” said Davis, who attends Davis Middle School in Waldorf. “I’m excited to see the different competition.”
Makenzie Cooper was unable to qualify for the Florida competition when she finished with a 97, three strokes over the 94 needed to qualify.
Koch may be headed to the tournament, which will be held July 20 to 25 for the 10-11 and 12-13 boys and 10-12 girls, July 25 to 30 for the 14-15 boys and 13-14 girls, and July 30 to Aug. 4 for the boys 16-18 and girls 15-18, but he was none too pleased with his performance on the links.
“Honestly, not at all,” said Koch, who will play golf at Winthrop University (S.C.) in the fall. “I missed a lot of putts I usually make. I ended up grinding pretty well and I hit the ball awesome, but I was just struggling to make those putts I usually make within 10 feet and struggling with the speed of the greens. Just simple stuff.”
Koch wanted to get a practice round or two in but was unable to get a preview of the 5,751-yard course as he was competing in a Maryland amateur qualifier.
“I think it would have really helped me out,” he said. “I tried to get there early [Saturday] to get the speed of greens down. I plan on going down there more prepared. I remember vividly I was exhausted by the second day so plan get into gym and create more stamina and stability. And just keep my head about me and try and map out the course as good as possible to give myself the best opportunity to win.”
Koch said taking advantage of every hole and every shot will be key.
“I really feel like hitting your approach shots close gives you the best opportunity to make birdies,” he said. “There’s a lot of kids down there that make tons of birdies and that’s going to be key
if I want to win. I know I have the talent and the ability to win, now it’s just go out there and practice hard and do it.”
Tyer said the key on Saturday was sticking to his game plan, which was to play conservatively.
“I played very conservative off the tee all day and hit a lot of irons off the tee and just stayed with my game plan and trusted myself to shoot the score I needed,” he said. “I was thinking about pulling a driver on 18 but that was a hole I needed to bring myself back on so I hit a 4-iron and just stayed with my game plan.”
Tyer said his best hole was the 492-yard, par-5 No. 7, which he birdied.
“I hit a driver off that tee but hit it way too far, so I knew I needed to pull a 3-wood because that was traveling for me and I hit it out there really well,” Tyer said. “I had 268 [yards] until the green, so I pulled another 3-wood because I’d made some good shots earlier in the day [with that club], so I just stayed confident on the ball and knocked it up there on the green and two-putted from 30 feet.”
Tyer said preparedness will be key to success in the Sunshine State.
“I think everyone knows going into this tournament that it’s a tough golf course,” he said, referring to the PGA National Resort & Spa course, “so it’s going to take a lot of preparation and mapping out a game plan and sticking to it.”
Davis rebounded from a near-disastrous 9 on the 282yard, par-4, No. 3.
“I hit it out of bounds twice,” she said. “I just tried to not let it get to me and as long as I finished with par I would have been fine, which I did for the most part. I think in my position I didn’t use the shot I should have, and the result of my other shot wasn’t very good. And then after that bad shot the bad shots just kept on coming.”
Davis said she thought her game closest to the tee would be key to finishing well in Florida.
“I think the short game will be the most important,” she said. “I think as long as I stay within my game — mid to low 70s — will be my main goal.”
Tyler Koch chips out of a bunker on his way to a 76 and a share of second place in the boys 16-18 age group.