Leo Lynk’s goal by the end of the high school golf season is to get his own game to a point where he’s disappointed to shoot a score in the low 80s.
The Evanston junior isn’t quite there yet. But he took a big step in that direction on Tuesday, with Illinois High School Association postseason play starting in just one week.
Lynk turned in a season-best 18 hole score of 78 at the Central Suburban League South division tournament at Sportsman’s Country Club in Northbrook, leading the Wildkits to a fourth place finish in the team standings.
Lynk’s performance provided the highlight for the Kits on a day where the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 golfers — Matt Barbato and Tommy Barbato — both carded 84s. Combined with Lynk’s 78, an 82 by Henry Goodman and an 83 by Owen Shapiro, it all added up to a team score of 327 that placed the Wildkits behind New Trier (286), Maine South (289) and Glenbrook South (299) and ahead of Niles West (333) and Niles North (389).
Lynk rose to the occasion in perfect weather conditions — temperature in the 90s with only a slight wind late in the competition on the par 70 course. New Trier’s Mike Tanaka claimed medalist honors with a score of 68.
“I had a streak of bogeys on the front 9, but I was able to turn it around and get some par saves after that,” Lynk said. “I played pretty solid, except at the end when I went double bogey, par, double on the last 3 holes. It was a good score, but it could have been really good except for those doubles.
“I’ve been struggling with my putting all season, that’s the No. 1 reason why I couldn’t get any low scores. Today I only took about 32 or 33 putts (a season best), and I did hit a 20-footer to save par on the 9th hole.
“My ball striking has been really solid and I’ve had a lot of confidence lately in my irons and wedge shots. It definitely feels good to get into the 70s right before the regional. It’s really a confidence booster for me, but I’ll have to improve some to make it out of the regional and sectional. As long as I’m in the 70s, I’ll be happy with my game.”
So will ETHS head coach Jed Curtis.
“I’m really excited for Leo,” Curtis said. “He’s a guy who has all the tools, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together for 18 holes. It’s exciting to see how he’s starting to get it, and I think he has the potential to go even lower over the next couple of weeks.
“Leo’s been very consistent all year. He’s never had a big blowup number, and I won’t be surprised if he does well next week.”
Evanston’s varsity was actually outscored by a Wildkit frosh-soph team that posted a score of 325, second only to New Trier’s 304. Jack Skidmore tied three New Trier competitors for medalist honors at 75 apiece, then was awarded the second place medal via scorecard playoff. Joining him as top 10 finishers were Joe Bergmann (6th) and Jack Reynolds (9th) for ETHS.
“It’s a little disappointing because this is a course that we’re very familiar with, and we shot a 312 here earlier in the year,” Curtis pointed out. “They all had to fight through some stuff today. We struggled a little with our distance control, and that’s what put us in some bad spots. We also have to make sure we hit more fairways the next couple of weeks.
“I’m totally excited about the sophomore team. (Coaches) Todd Rubin and Andy Miner did a great job with them this year. It’s a very close-knit group, they’re very competitive, and they’re so coachable. They want to get better. This is a good way to cap off their season and I’m very excited about the future of Evanston golf.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.