Weather played major havoc at the IHSA State golf tournaments on Saturday, either forcing cancellation of championship rounds or causing the participants major stress.
Things started out well on Friday, but then went south in a hurry. This was true for both Oliva Kief of Morris down at Red Tail Run in Decatur and Jason Chobar of Minooka at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
"On Friday, the weather was beautiful. It started out cold, but by 10 o'clock it was gorgeous weather for golf," Morris coach Matt Lafond said. "She ended with an 86. Saturday was obviously horrible weather conditions. It was the exact opposite."
"Saturday was cold and rainy and windy and kind of miserable," Kief said. "That kind of messes with your mind a little."
Conditions before Saturday, however, lent itself to excellent playing for both Kief and Chobar.
"On Thursday, Jason's practice round went really well," Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic said. "I was caddying for him and he shot a 77, which is really good. He shot a 40 on the back nine and was one-over 37 on the front. He was playing well."
"I had played the course three times and was trying to figure out what the conditions were," Chobar said. "I was hitting the ball well at the time."
Unfortunately for both players, either the course or the conditions ate them up. Kief started Saturday 4-over, 2-over, 2-over before rain eventually halted play. She would go on to shoot 45 and 47 for an overall score of 178 and a 48th place finish overall. Chobar was off to a good start, carding a 40 on the back nine, but at the turn he got swallowed up on a tough par-3.
"He was off to a good start. He was hitting the ball well all weekend ... in fact, I have been watching him play all year and he hasn't hit the ball better all year. He got a 40 on the back nine and it could have been better than that. It could have been a 37 or a 38. At that point I was thinking if he was to shoot three over tops, that would put him at 79 and right in the middle of the pack," Petrovic said. "But things really unraveled for him on the front nine. He lipped a put and then hit his tee shot out of bounds on 11. He did recover to make a nice boggie, if there is such a thing, but after that is where it came apart for him."
"It was really windy that day. I'd say the winds were between 20-30 miles an hour. The fourth was a par-three 170-ish hole and I thought it was set up too tough. He actually hit two good shots but got unlucky."
"I made double bogie there and after that was trying to get strokes back," Chobar said. "I was upset at how my score ended up."
Both golfers had to endue a lengthy weather delay on Saturday. The weather delay may have actually benefited Kief on Saturday.
"The break was almost a good thing because I got to take some time to sit and compose myself to get back in the game," Kief said.
"They began Saturday with a shotgun start and everyone went off at the same time. Then they were delayed after four holes," Lafond said. "At that point, I thought it affected her in a positive way since at the time she was in huge trouble."
Both coaches then indicated that it was the mental part of the game where their players effectively hit a wall.
"Unfortunately, you also have to be mentally tough. You are going to have bad holes, but sometimes that can be really tough on a 16-yard old kid. At that point, it got away from him," Petrovic said. "He doesn't get nervous, but he does get excited. He does a pretty good job of staying focused, but that took the wind out of his sails."
Likewise for Kief.
"In the two years I have been coaching her, I have never seen her so distraught," Lafond said. "She assured me she was going to bounce back, but her body language was saying something different."
When all was said and done, Kief did regain her composure and got to finish the rest of her senior season.
"There were some huge scores on Saturday. I actually wasn't keeping track of her scores and when she came in and told me she was only six shots worse than on Friday, I thought it would be a heck of a lot worse," Lafond said. "Her putting was off. If she is on her normal game, she's up there. Friday she was phenomenal off the tee and he approach was good, but she was not quite right on the greens this weekend."
"My putting killed me," Kief confirmed. "I just couldn't get the hang of it. If I had putted like I did at conference, regional and sectional, I'd have medaled ... no matter what, though, it was cool to be the first girl from Morris to carry that bag all the way."
While Kief got to finish, the same can't be the same for Chobar as the final round at The Den was called off — leaving him to finish 95th overall (46/40).
"He was excited to come out the next day. We talked about it and I told him to go out and play with reckless abandon," Petrovic said. "Unfortunately the weather rolled in and he didn't get the chance to redeem himself."
"It was upsetting. We went out on the course on Saturday and played two holes before they called us in. After about two hours, it was called," Chobar said. "I would have liked to have had the chance to redeem myself and have the chance to finish. But I am glad to have made it to state this year. I'm also glad that I'm going to be able to get another chance at it."