FORT WAYNE – The third-wettest April on record did not exactly prepare 19 northern Indiana golf teams for the 4th of May, awash as it was in gorgeous spring sunshine, cool breezes and greens that no longer had the roll-ability of a kitchen sponge.
No matter. No. 2 Warsaw – and East Noble standout Michael Sharp – made do.
On greens dried out at last by several days of sun and wind, the Tigers got a steady 75 from senior Tim Ahlersmeyer and a pair of solid 80s from Jon Schram and Jonny Hollar to win the Homestead Invitational, wringing a 322 team score from Orchard Ridge Country Club to outpace runner-up East Noble (329) by seven strokes.
Culver Academy finished third at 333.
Tim Ahlersmeyer played really well, Warsaw coach Ben Barkey said. Without his score, wed be hurting. So that 75 is nice. Anytime you have a score like that in your lineup youre doing pretty well.
This is the first time weve played on really well-manicured greens. We practice at Stonehenge, and we have pretty good greens there, too, but with the weather and stuff we havent had a lot of them at this caliber. So that allowed us to challenge us to try to adjust. Some of us did, some us didnt.
Count Sharp among the former category.
The Michigan State-bound senior had everyone covered, shooting 36 on the front nine and a blistering 34 on the back for a 2-under 70 and medalist honors.
Pretty much everything was working today, Sharp said. Certainly in an invitational its the best round Ive shot this year. I really putted well, and I hit a lot of really good iron shots.
Timing helped, too.
I played early in the morning so it was a little more receptive then, he said. As the day went on it got harder and harder, but youve just got to take one less club maybe and hit a little runner instead of flying it in and stopping it.
That was a challenge everyone struggled with.
It was definitely an adjustment, because Im used to the greens weve already played, Ahlersmeyer said. These were the fastest greens we been on this year, and you definitely have to worry about speed and just getting it close to the hole.
You cant worry about making every putt, its just about getting a few putts in.
Besides Sharp and Ahlersmeyer, five other golfers broke 80. Will Erickson of Northridge shot 75; Luke Jackson of Wawasee put up a 76; Ben Sharff of Culver shot a 77; and Zach Seeler of Marion and Tom Morrison of Northridge both shot 79.
For the Tigers, Ryan Cultice and Brandon Eckert both had 87s.
We enjoy coming here, Barkey said. Orchard Ridge is a great facility. We love the people here, and we love the course, (which) is beautiful.
So our guys really love playing here. So its a lot of fun.