"You come in here and you expect to be comfortable and play well and to do that it's a really good feeling."
McPherson's Jacob Lackey played a near perfect round of golf Thursday, shooting a final round 68, to capture the Kansas Golf Association 58th Boys Junior Amateur title. Lackey started the day three off the pace after an opening rounds of 75 and 71 and finished with a 54-hole total of 214.
Lackey settled for a birdie on 18 after a near miss of an eagle putt, then held on as Grant Herrenbruck, Zach Sokolosky and Taylor Larsen each took their turn on the final hole, all with chances to win or force a playoff. The trio could not capitalize and ended up in a three-way tie for second place at 215. The moment Sokolosky missed a long chip attempt for eagle, Lackey and his small contingent of fans were relieved and able to begin the championship celebration.
"It was a good feeling," said a humble Lackey. "It was a tight race and it was a lot of fun, when you're playing and you have your adrenaline running it's a lot of fun."
Lackey is the first male from McPherson to win the junior amateur championship and he was able to accomplish that playing on his home course, in front of about a dozen fans who followed him throughout the day, including his parents.
"It was a great feeling," Lackey said. "You come in here and you expect to be comfortable and play well and to do that it's a really good feeling."
Lackey's 68 today was not reflective of how good he actually played. He struggled on the front nine in the first two rounds, carding a two over each day, including going six over par combined on No. 1 and No. 5. But today he managed his game well, shot a par on hole one, birdied five, lipped out on a birdie try on six and settled for a birdie after missing an eagle putt on nine. The back nine saw Lackey lip out on 11, hit the pin on a birdie chip on 13 and miss an eagle putt by a narrow margin on 18. His only blemish on today's round was a bogey on 15.
"I played a pretty good round with some good putts out there and I think that's what kept me in it," said Lackey, summing up the day. "I like starting on the front better. Something about the back, I like playing the back later. If you have a good round going I think it is better to have that good round going into the back nine than the front nine. It's a little bit more open and you can get away with more shots back there. I knew the course and I wasn't to nervous about anything, I felt comfortable."
With the win Lackey is automatically qualified for the 107th Kansas Amateur that begins on June 20, at the Kansas City Country Club. He also will forever have his named etched on the traveling trophy as a KGA Boys Junior Amateur Champion.
Champions of their age division flight included Lackey in the 18 and older, Herrenbruck and Sokolosky tied in the 17, Ryan Bender in 16, David Cooper in 15 and Ryan Lee in 14. Winning the 7th Sadie Park Sunflower Girls Junior Championship with a 219 was Megan Propeck, whose second round 67 helped her win by eight strokes.
Contact Matt Cole by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.