EVANSVILLE, Ind. – There’s always something interesting going on during the City of Evansville Men’s Golf Tournament.
A total of 173 golfers competed for 63 spots during Saturday’s qualifying round. It marks the most participants for the tournament since 2008 and the first time two courses have been required since 2016.
There were low scores. Lots of suspense with an 8 man playoff. Even a bit of drama for the final spot in the main event. Even trying to qualify is never without interest.
Here’s a look at what happened at Fendrich and Helfrich Hills.
Fendrich got several low scores
It shouldn’t be surprising which site turned in the most birdies with 17 players shooting par or better at Fendrich. For comparison, only one achieved this mark last year in the rankings.
Mitchell Johnson and Matthew Godsey paced the field with 6-under 64s. Johnson, a North High School graduate, posted an impressive 10 birdies, including four in a row, to end the day.
Godsey, a junior in Brescia, bogeyed his first hole, the par 4 10, to play flawless golf the rest of the day. The Memorial High School graduate finished with seven birdies.
“My main goal was to make the cut,” Godsey said. “As soon as I started getting it going, I wanted to see how low I could go. It just all came together in one day. I’ve been practicing a lot to get to the skill level I want to be at.”
Zach Williams (six birdies) shot 5 under par. Eric Brinker (six birdies) and Luke Johnston (five birdies) finished four under par. Patrick Montgomery, Zachary Turi, Brody Sorrell and Ryan Horstketter, all three under par.
Noah Reese, Aaron Ashley, Drew Cahill, Ed Prevo and Daneil Hernly were the others in the red.
Here’s everyone else who qualified from Fendrich: Cory Kohlmeyer, Grant McAtee, Brayden Lamborne (70); Scott Alpers, Nolan Ballard, Adam Akin, Clayton Zirkelbach, Kyle Smith, Kellen Higginson, William Redden, Brad House, Ben Meier (71); Jim Godsey, Mason Wassmer, Reid Lorey, Kurt Denning, Luke Richison (72); Ottie Droste, Kyle Seitz, Andy Eble, Sam Key, Cameron Scheller, Harold Schriefer, Aaron Huff, Matt Whitmore, Nathan Lester, Jim Thompson, Grant McCleary, Brent Weinzapfel (73); Mason Royalty, Lucas Zielinski, Tom Gayhart, Dustin Ross, Steve Wassmer and Don Neel (74).
The Schroeder family has a memorable day in Helfrich
James Schroeder has been intertwined with this tournament and Helfrich Hills for years.
He won the Dan Scism scholarship in 1995. When he was 14, his family moved across from the Michael D. Helfrich House, which is located behind the 10th green.
Nothing in his mind surpassed this year. Her round only played a small part in it. Schroeder claimed the last qualifying spot of the Helfrich group with a par in a one-hole playoff against Stephen Smith.
Your caddy? Will, her 10-year-old son. Her oldest, Zach, had the second-lowest round at Helfrich to qualify as well.
“I love this tournament and I never qualified,” said James Schroeder. “This year, my guys played for the first time. (Qualifying) is a blessing, but it probably means more because of them.”
Zach Schroeder, a young man on the rise at Mater Dei, was one of the few to find success at Helfrich. He posted a 4-for-75 with three birdies to finish one shot behind Tyler Raben in the bottom round. His younger brother, Matthew, an incoming freshman, fired an 87 to miss the cut by just four shots.
“Zach shot a big touchdown,” his father said. “He was four putts away from winning the qualifier. It’s great to have us all together today. Getting that last place was a cherry on top.”
Here were Helfrich’s 14 qualifiers: Tyler Raben (73); Zach Schroeder (75); Thomas Broshears (76); Kevin Higdon (77); Cody Mobley (78); Griffin Sohn, Rhett Schreiber, Chad Goble (79); Jake Hess (80); Aidan Ashley, Peter Doepker, Patrick Britz, Bryan Will (82); James Schroeder (83).
Big shots and drama in the playoffs
The final places for the tournament (the first round will be played on July 16) required additional holes at Fendrich. This is where the 8-man playoff occurred, as well as some controversy.
Ten players finished 4 out of 74 with five places up for grabs. However, two were not present at the 10th hole when their names were called. Those five points of advancement were then determined on a hole.
Tom Gayhart, Steve Wassmer, Dustin Ross, Lucas Zielinski and Don Neel each cut the first playoff hole. Four of them ran with Gayhart the only player to make it to the green. The best shot was Zielinski.
After hitting his second long shot, he hit a perfect pitch over a hill that nearly rolled into the cup. Zielinski, who said he was running for the playoffs and needed to buy a hat at the pro shop, couldn’t see the pin.
“I don’t want (that take) again,” Zielinski said. “That’s probably one of the best shots of my life. We thought the 74 would be 100%. We had lunch and weren’t planning on playing golf again.”
Mason Royalty birdied the third playoff hole to win what was originally an alternate position. However, he received a place in the tournament when it was determined that a player who shot more than 74 did not meet the primary residence eligibility requirement.
Tournament rules state that entries are open to male amateur players who are residents of Vanderburgh, Posey, Warrick or Gibson counties.
Follow Courier & Press sportswriter Kyle Sokeland on Twitter @kylesokeland.