Baley Lehr didn’t believe he was playing his best Sunday in the second round of the Illinois Valley Men’s Golf Championship.
Then the tenth hole happened.
“On 10, I had a nice up and down,” Lehr said. “I hit it in the water on my tee shot and then hit my wedge to about 2 feet to make par. After that, I don't feel like I hit a bad shot. Sometimes you hit just one shot and click right into a groove. It seems like that’s what happened.”
Lehr rode that momentum on the back nine at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club to his third consecutive IV Men’s Golf Championship crown.
“It feels good,” said Lehr, who was among four players tied for second after Saturday’s opening round at Deer Park Golf Club. “This year was probably the hardest one, but I got through it and came out at the end good.
“Course-wise, it was probably the toughest conditions I’ve played all year. I felt like I played fine but couldn't get it going like I normally feel like I can. Finally, on the back nine I started playing well.”
Lehr shot a one-under-par 142 to beat Doug Pinter (145), Ian Roach (146), Caleb Dzierzynski (147), T.J. Templeton (147) and Josh Gass (147).
“Any tournament I go into, I’m trying to win,” Lehr said. “It’s the same pressure I’d say as anytime. I wouldn't say I put more pressure on myself because it was three in a row. I just try to win every tournament I play in. I didn’t think too much about it.”
Pinter entered Sunday’s round tied for 12 after shooting a 75 on Saturday, but he started the second round strong with a birdie, par and birdie.
“[Saturday] was absolutely terrible,” Pinter said. “I started off bogey, double and put one in the drink on 11. I made a couple foolish mistakes, then kind of got settled in. I can’t complain. I made some putts, missed some putts, but at the end of the day I ended up second, so I’m really satisfied.
“I came up Friday and played a practice round at Oak Ridge. The speed of the greens caught me by surprise Friday, so I was able to make the adjustment. I started off birdie on one, lipped out on two and birdied on three. I felt really comfortable with the putter today.”
Lehr said it took some time to adjust to the fast greens.
“The course was fair, but firm and fast,” Lehr said. “It felt like the first time I played on firm and fast greens all year, so it was quite an adjustment at first. Finally, I started getting used to it, and I started feeling a little more comfortable. It was just a grind the first 27 holes of the tournament.”
Roach, who graduated from Putnam County in May and was a four-time IHSA state tournament qualifier, entered Sunday with a one-stroke lead after shooting a one-under-par 70 on Saturday.
He shot a one-over 37 on the front nine Saturday before carding a 39 on the back nine.
Dzierzynski was in a group of five players tied for eighth entering Sunday and played into a tie for the lead before finishing tied for fourth.
Cody Phalen won the A Class, Declan Cooney claimed the B Class, David Scholl took the C Class and Michael Haig won the Senior Class.
Mendota Golf Club won the team title with a 795 with Deer Park (818) and Edgewood Park (825) rounding out the top three.