Until the City League championship Wednesday afternoon, Kapaun boys golf coach Corey Novascone thought Nick Auer was being too conservative off the tee.
“With his length, he was hitting six and seven irons instead of driver,” Novascone said. “He was giving himself few chances at birdie.”
So Auer adjusted and in a big way.
Hitting driver after driver, Auer made six birdies on his way to a 3-under 68 and medalist honors at MacDonald Park. The Crusaders shot 284 and won the team title by 29 strokes over Bishop Carroll.
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“I was very aggressive today and wanted to utilize my length,” Auer said. “I didn’t have more than a sand wedge into most of the greens. I was basically playing pitch and putt.”
It didn’t take long for Auer to get into red numbers, making birdie on the short par five first hole. He added birdies at five, six and seven for a frontside 33.
“He just bombs it and he took advantage of that,” Novascone said. “When you hit the ball as far as Nick does, you are bound to make some birdies and he did that.”
After adding another birdie at 10, Auer made one of his two bogeys on the round at 11, but birdied 13 and finished with five straight pars.
“My freshman year, I shot 61 here, so there is a sense of comfort with this golf course,” Auer said. “Winning a tournament gives me a lot of confidence and hopefully I can take that confidence going forward to regionals and state.”
Kapaun’s two-time state Class 5A Sam Stevens shot 72 and placed third.
Eric Ewers, who is the Crusaders’ sixth man, shot not only his best round in tournament play, but the best round of his life Wednesday, placing second with a 1-under 71.
“It’s nice for the top four to have someone play well behind them, just in case they don’t play well that day,” Ewers said. “It gives them some leeway.”
Ewers said admitted that he didn’t hit as many greens as he would have liked, but made up for it by getting up and down time and time again, while also making key par putts.
“I really worked hard on my chipping yesterday and it paid off today,” Ewers said. “I hit really accurate drives and this course requires that, so I like playing here.”
His only birdies came at Nos. 8 and 10 and those were after making his lone bogey on No. 5.
“His whole golf-life changed when we were at the Hutchinson Tournament,” Novascone said. “I gave him a putting lesson and he has been lights out with the putter ever since. I’m really proud of him and what he has done.”
Medalists — 1. Auer, KMC 68, 2. Ewers, KMC 71, 3. Stevens, KMC 72, 4. Gilbaugh, KMC 73, T5. Towey, Carroll 75, Graf, KMC 75, 7. Pitcher, Heights 77, T8. Harshberger, Carroll 78, Haight, Heights 78, Burns, KMC 78.
1. Kapaun 284 (Auer 68, Ewers 71, Stevens 72, Gilbaugh 73)
2. Bishop Carroll 313 (Towey 75, Harshberger 78, Armstrong 79, Sander 79)
3. Heights 318 (Pitcher 77, Haight 78, Gannon 79, Plumlee 84)
4. Northwest 359 (Welborn 79, Graham 88, Gustafson 94, Bazzelle 98)
5. North 363 (Granon 79, Hatfield 92, Kohl 95, Mitchell 97)
6. East 370 (Khan 87, LeCompte 88, Anderson 95, White 100)
7. West 416 (Darkis 90, Bell 105, Koontz 110, McGray 111)
8. Southeast 482 (Brown 108, Davis 121, Wong 126, Janus 127)