Independent's Dunne holds on for regional golf title

NEWTON — Independent's Sam Dunne is one of those golfers that processes everything on the course.

He will look at a putt from every angle. He will make sure his tee is at the precise height for his driver.

It takes Dunne 30 seconds after address to hit the ball. But once the club meets the ball, good things happen.

Dunne took home medalist honors at the Class 3A regional at Sand Creek Station on Monday with a 1-under par 71, outlasting Harrison Morris of Collegiate by two shots to advance to Monday's state tournament.

Collegiate won the team title with a four-man score of 308 and Independent also qualified for state, shooting 317.

"Before I swing, I try to not grip the club until I absolutely have to and then go over a couple of swing thoughts," Dunne said. "It's the same tempo I try to keep the entire round and if something doesn't feel right, then I start over. I don't take any shot lightly."

Just a week ago, Dunne was struggling with his game. His scores were in the middle 80s and winning a regional wasn't even a thought.

But he got a quick lesson over the weekend, which focused on going back to the fundamentals of golf.

"There were little fundamental things that we worked on," Dunne said. "I started hitting the ball better and I came out here with some confidence."

Dunne's ball striking was stellar Monday, as he hit 15 greens. While some of that could be attributed to playing an open course like Sand Creek in benign conditions, Dunne was still dialed in with his short irons.

"I knew that I hit the ball far enough that I could get a good placement in the fairway and throw some birdie chances up there," Dunne said. "Hitting the ball long and accurate has been something I've been trying to be more consistent at."

After a bogey on No. 5, where he three-putted from inside 70 feet, he answered with a birdie at No. 6 and the side with a 36.

"Sam is a thinker — he thinks his way around the golf course," Independent coach Chris Jones said. "It doesn't work for most golfers, but it certainly works for him."

On the inward nine, Dunne made birdie at 11, hitting his approach shot to 3 feet and then made another birdie on the reachable par 5 16th.

Morris made a late challenge, making eagle at 16 to cut his deficit to two shots, but missed birdie putts at 17 and 18 to finish second.

Team results

1. Collegiate 308 (Ha. Morris 73, Kemmer 78, Maloney 78, Hu. Morris 79, Sullivan 82, Sorlie 87), 2. Independent 317 (Dunne 71, White 81, Fahnestock 82, Tuttle 83, Stultz 86, Palmer 103), 3. Halstead 358, 4. Sedgwick 358, 5. Remington 371, 6. Eureka 385, 7. Bluestem 410, 8. Chaparral 425.

Individual qualifiers

1. Money, Sedgwick 83, 2. Armendariz, Halstead 85, 3. Nemeth, Halstead 86, 4. Regier, Remington 86, 5. Hrabe, Bluestem 88, 6. Day, Sedgwick 88.