PLYMOUTH – Jonny Filler was feeling pretty good about his round after the first five holes of the Plymouth Regional Tournament at Swan Lake Resort on Thursday, when he was already four shots under par.
The Bishop Dwenger senior couldn't keep up that pace, but he did finish the 18-hole round with a score of 72 and then beat Homestead junior Adam DeLong in a one-hole playoff to become the regional champion.
“I go into every round with a game plan, so I felt pretty confident with what I was going to do today,” Filler said. “(My plan was) mainly just to have good course management, play every tee-shot smart and not do anything ridiculous to put myself out of bounds or on the hazards off the tee, because that's pretty big out here.”
Filler's great day extended to each of his Saints teammates, all five of whom shot sub-80 as Bishop Dwenger won the regional team title with a score of 305, beating Penn by two strokes. Canterbury and Peru each shot 319 as teams, and DeKalb and Carroll came in at 323.
“We leaked a little oil on the backside, but held on,” Bishop Dwenger coach Dave Scudder said. “Our four and five (Nick Holder and Sam Brita) played well. When you can get them under 80, that's a pretty good start.”
While Filler felt confident on the course throughout the day, Homestead's DeLong said he was “under pressure the whole way.”
“The practice rounds were mostly just scouting out the course, knowing where the best misses were, and getting used to the greens – and I don't know, I sucked all those days,” DeLong said. “I've never had a round like this, and I'm not used to playing like this, it's never happened.”
DeLong, who was one of the five individuals who advanced to next week's state championship, said that while the stakes were different, he played in much the same way he has all season.
“I've not been hitting the ball perfectly, but I'm keeping it in smart spots to miss, I think,” DeLong said. “My short game's been doing pretty good.”
DeLong hit his tee-shot on the playoff into a pond left of the 18th fairway.
“When we first got to the tee, I was probably going to go for it, and depending on my tee shot I was going to play it more to the left side of the fairway to give myself an angle,” Filler said. “But once he hit it in the water, there was really no point to me doing anything more that lay up and play it safe. Then two-put for par.”
Long before Bishop Dwenger and Homestead finished their rounds and turned in their scorecards, DeKalb's Bailey Clark turned in a 73 to become the early leader. His score would stand for third overall, and he advanced along with Kash Bellar of Peru, Branden Hansen of Kokomo and Alex Hedrick of Columbia City.
“There were strokes out there that I could have had, but you can't complain about a 73,” Clark said. “On No. 6, I stuck it pretty good. I didn't play anything real good, it was just kind of a mediocre round.”
The state championship will be Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. No Northern Indiana teams or individuals qualified for state from the Muncie Central regional, which was also Thursday.