TUSCOLA — Schlarman Academy senior Gabe Huddleston approached the 18th green at the Ironhorse Golf Club in Tuesday’s IHSA Class 1A sectional tournament with a surreal feeling.
Normally, Huddleston would have been wondering if his score was going to be good enough to advance to the IHSA Class 1A state tournament at Prairie Vista Golf Club in Bloomington. But that’s not possible this year.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IHSA is not hosting a state tournament this year and the postseason trail for Huddleston and every other golfer in the state will end in the sectional tournament.
So whether it was ironic or apropos, Huddleston broke his divot repair tool fixing his divot on the 18th green after his pitch shot.
“I was thinking all the way from the tee to the green, how this was going to be it for my high school golf career,’’ said Huddleston by phone on Wednesday night. “I got to the green and reached down to fix my divot and my divot repair tool breaks into two pieces.’’
Huddleston finished his round with a bogey, giving him a score of 12-over 84 on Tuesday and a tie for 15th-place. Under normal circumstances, Huddleston would have qualified for his second straight Class 1A state tournament as the top three teams and the top-10 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to state. Huddleston would have tied for 8th, one stroke clear of the final qualifying spot.
“Nothing has been normal this season,’’ Huddleston said. “It would have been nice to play in the state tournament again, and try to improve on what I did last year but that wasn’t possible.’’
In his only state tournament appearance, Huddleston tied for 38th with a two-round score of 167.
So, how did he feel about his final round of high school golf?
“The wind definitely a pretty big factor in the day,’’ said Huddleston, who thought the wind were anywhere from 20-30 mph on the wild-open course in Tuscola. “I felt like I struck the ball well.’’
Huddleston finished with no birdies, eight bogeys and two double-bogeys in his round.
While his high school golf career is over, Huddleston is very hopeful that he will get an opportunity to play collegiate golf next year.
“I’ve talked with a few college coaches, but they are in a wait-and-see situation with the pandemic and what they are going to be able to do in the future,’’ said Huddleston, who only started playing golf in the eighth grade. “Hopefully, the right opportunity will come along and I will be able to take advantage of it.’’
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin, the Schlarman Academy Regional champions last week at the Danville Country Club, also struggled at Ironhorse on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils finished 9th with a score of 379. Senior Izaiah Lusk had the low round for BHRA, capping his high school career with a final round 87, which tied him for 27th place, while senior Rance Bryant finished his career with a 92, senior Carson Darby shot a 95 and senior Isaac Tabels had a 116.