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Petrovic wins tournament, has Indians close in another

These days, Jeff Petrovic finds less time for golf than he did in the years immediately after his University of St. Francis Hall of Fame career concluded.

Petrovic coaches two summer baseball teams. One is his Minooka Community High School Indians, who defeated St. Rita 3-1 Monday morning at the Phil Lawler Summer State Tournament Finals. The other is his son Luke’s travel team, which plays around 50 games.

In between coaching, a family vacation and following daughter Makenna’s young athletic career, Petrovic has spent very little time on the course this summer.

“This is as little golf as I can remember playing,” Petrovic said. “I still love it, I just don’t have the time.”

Petrovic did pick up the clubs on the weekend of July 13 and 14, and the result was his sixth Joliet Park District Tournament championship. With rounds of 68 and 73 at Inwood and Wedgewood Golf Courses, Petrovic won by three strokes over Rob Weiss.

“It’s never routine. I always find a way to make it interesting. No, it’s always fun. It’s a good group of guys,” Petrovic said. “A lot of my old college teammates who played at St. Francis are there. There are a lot of really great young players. It’s nice to be able to go out and play.”

After the opening round, Petrovic was atop the leaderboard by a margin of four strokes over Brian Komp. He did not feel serious pressure Sunday until late in his round.

“Some of the other leaders that were closest to me got off to a slow start. So I started playing conservatively, and I wasn’t hitting quite as well, trying to make pars,” Petrovic said. “When I got to the 13th tee, I heard a guy who was playing up in front of me (Weiss) was getting close.

“I hung in there. ... I putted relatively well both days, and on Saturday, I drove the ball terrific. My irons were the part of my game I struggled with.”

The win was Petrovic’s second straight in the tournament. He once won the event four consecutive times and lost the fifth in the playoff.

“When I came out of college, I was very, very competitive, and I knew how to play. I was pretty good at it,” Petrovic said. “Every year, I seem to lose a little bit. I’m getting close to 40, and these young kids are so good that it’s hard to stay competitive with them. That, and I have really had so little time.”

Winning has not been restricted to the golf course for Petrovic. His Indians won the 21-team Lockport Regional last week as part of the summer state series. If they keep winning, they will play for the state championship Thursday.

“We’ve had a great year. It’s such a fun team with great guys who are really hard workers. It’s a mix of guys who get along great,” Petrovic said after Monday’s win. “We’ve gone 16-5 and played really great defense, and have gotten some great pitching.”

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