Even though baseball was his first love, Jacob Lipman started playing golf more seriously this past summer because it’s a sport where you can control your own destiny.

And the Evanston junior was in control Wednesday in wet and windy conditions at the Glencoe Golf Club.

Lipman earned a 10th place finish with a 79 at the Central Suburban League South division championship meet, leading Evanston to a 5th place performance overall as a team.

That top 10 finish was even more significant than in most years because powerful Glenbrook North switched divisions this fall, making it by far the toughest boys golf conference in the state of Illinois.

Lipman not only claimed a 10th place medal, but his performance — which included a pair of birdies — likely cinched a spot on the ETHS postseason roster with Illinois High School Association regional tournament play set for Monday at Winnetka Golf Course.

Coaches can enter 7 golfers at the conference meet, but are only allowed 6 for regional and sectional competition. And considering that Lipman played out of the No. 6 position Wednesday, his team-best score was even more remarkable.

Next best for the Wildkits behind Lipman were Peter Barbato and Tejas Baichwal, both at 81, while Thomas Haller and Michael Levitas both added 84s.

“I wasn’t really into golf when I started high school and I played fall baseball my freshman year,” explained Lipman. “My sophomore year I started to take it more seriously. I was just able to grind it out. But this past summer I worked a lot with my swing coach (Bill Sakas) and now that hard work is starting to pay off.

“I like the game and I like being out here, even on a day like this. In golf your hard work pays off if you go out and grind, and I kinda like that. You can control your own destiny.”

“We had a couple of guys who really struggled out there today, but I’m really happy for Jacob,” said ETHS head coach Jed Curtis. “He’s been playing well the last 3 weeks and he played really well today. That’s very exciting for him and he’s coming on strong at the right time.

“Today he was able to find the fairways off the tee, and he just hit the greens and 2-putted most of them.”

Lipman estimated that he hit “13 or 14” greens under conditions that are the toughest he’s ever faced in competition.

“I had two birdies today but it wasn’t because of my putting,” he pointed out. “One was a 30-foot chip-in and the other was from about 20 feet off the fringe. I had a 42 on the front because I had to get used to the conditions. Some of the greens were really fast, and some were really slow because it was so wet. And on the 18th hole (where he scored that chip-in) the wind was in my face about 25 miles per hour, so that was tough.

“I’ve been in the 5-6-7 spots (in the lineup) so it really was a borderline situation for me. I wanted to come out and give it my best shot today, so I could play in the regional.”

Lipman finished just six strokes behind medalist Daniel Tanaka of New Trier at 73. Barbato also threatened to crack the top 10 as an individual, until he suffered a triple bogey on the final hole following a tee shot on the par-4 that landed in a rough spot.

As a team, the Wildkits placed 5th with a 325, beating out only Niles West (353) in the field. Evanston finished 5th overall after winning 2 of 5 dual meets.

New Trier posted a championship total of 304, followed in order by Maine South (312), Glenbrook North (315) and Glenbrook South (321).

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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