EFFINGHAM — It’s hard to have a better five-day stretch than the one Carbondale’s Ian Davis finished Monday.
After winning the Class 2A Mount Vernon Regional on Wednesday with a 6-under par 65, then booting a 46-yard field goal in the Terriers’ 53-7 football win Friday night at Mount Vernon, Davis tacked on the Effingham Sectional title.
Davis tied Benton’s Cy Norman with a 4-under par 68, going bogey-free until the par-4 17th, then was declared medalist when Norman opted out of a playoff because of a back injury.
“It’s been a fun week for sure,” Davis said. “But I’m excited to get back home and get to work before the state tournament.”
It’s tough to imagine Davis’ game needs much more work, given how he’s performed in his last two rounds. Playing on two well-respected tracks where shot-making trumps raw power, Davis has gone 10-under 133.
Effingham Country Club played at 6,237 yards, but tight fairways made it a tough test for some of the state’s top golfers. It wasn’t for Davis, because he kept hitting fairways.
“Focusing on owning fairways,” he said when asked what worked. “These were pretty tight, but if I could hit the fairway, it usually opened it up for the green. A lot of wedges in my hand, so I stayed in good position.”
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So did Norman, who was in one of the day’s first groups. Except for consecutive bogeys at the turn, Norman was flawless. He finished his round with a birdie putt at 18 to grab the clubhouse lead.
A wait of more than two hours caused Norman’s back to tighten up. But his father and coach, Reggie Norman, said the back shouldn’t hamper Cy’s ability to play in the state tournament Friday at Illinois State’s Weibring Course.
“He just tweaked it a little bit,” Reggie Norman said. “We’ll work on it this weekend and I think he should be fine for Friday.”
In a surprising development, the Rangers didn’t defend their sectional title, although their 296 was good for second place and a berth in the state tourney. Breese Mater Dei earned a 3-stroke victory as it didn’t have to count a score higher than 76.
Norman gave full credit to the Knights for their achievement while also saying the result could help give his team a little extra focus for this weekend.
“Mater Dei is a good team and they clipped us today,” he said. “You take care of yourself and don’t worry about anyone else. We have to make sure our heads are on right. We have to lag-putt better and put the ball in the hole consistently.
“We can’t let a bad hole affect us and we have to keep grinding. Hopefully, we can post some better numbers the next tournament. You’re always trying to win, but the main goal is to be playing on the last day of the season and we have an opportunity to go up there and do that.”
Benton’s other counting scores included a 73 from freshman River Stilley, a 76 from Luke Melvin and Kash Cantrell’s 79.
Althoff finished a distant third at 315, four shots clear of Mattoon, to earn the last team spot from this sectional at state. Mount Vernon’s Blaze Greathouse carded a 78 to earn one of 10 state tourney spots reserved for individuals not from qualifying schools.
Massac County’s team score of 331 placed it seventh, while Mount Vernon finished in 12th place at 348. Luke Maurer (Massac County) and Peyton Danner (Marion) turned in 80s to finish a shot out of the last individual qualifying position.