CARMEL, Ind. — Sometimes a guy has to get emotional.
Well, not so much of that, but when you’re a senior playing in your first state golf tournament that will likely be your last tournament, period, as Homestead’s Austin Render did on a steamy Wednesday afternoon, when you tie Canterbury senior Michael Brothers and Bishop Dwenger junior Luke Miller for the best score of any Fort Wayne player, well, what’s wrong with being nostalgic?
Nothing, as it turns out.
“It was a lot of fun,” Render said from the edge of Prairie View Golf Course’s ninth green. “This team makes it so much fun. Everybody talks about the bus rides. The time spent with your team is priceless. We had a great three days here. We’ll all remember this.”
Render tied for 27th by shooting an 8-over 152 with two rounds of 76. Miller and Brothers matched him by each going 77-75.
Homestead has made four straight state tourneys, but this was Render’s first trip. Last year, he was an alternate. To crack the top-30 was win-The-Masters good.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “This is my first time playing in this type of atmosphere and pressure. I’m extremely happy with the way I played. If you had told me before we started I’d be 8–over after two rounds, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.”
Render said his competitive golf days are over. He’s set to head to Indiana University and study broadcasting
“This is it for me, so it was special to finish this way. I’m really enjoying it because I won’t do it again.”
As for playing in any summer tournaments, as he has done the last several years, Render said, “I don’t have any plans to play in tournaments. Just enjoy the summer with my friends who I might not see because we’re going our separate ways.
“My goal is to enjoy the summer. I’ll play a lot of golf. I don’t know if I’ll play in a lot of tournaments.”
Render finished strong after beginning his round with five bogies in the first seven holes.
“I got off to a terrible start.Then I settled down. I got a couple of birdies on the last side. I was a little tight at the start, but as day went on, I got more comfortable.”
The Spartans were comfortable enough to finish 11th in their fourth straight state appearance. What’s the secret to their success?
“We’re steady,” Render said. “When the postseason rolls around, we know what to do.
“We’re smart. We make good decisions. We’re all mentally strong and that helps. When guys struggle a little bit, they know they can get it back.”
Canterbury’s Brothers got emotional after he ended his high school career with his best round in three state appearances. So did his father and coach, Bob.
“He realized this was his last high school round,” Bob Brothers said. “And I know it will be different coaching a golf team without him. It might really sink in next March when I look at the roster and realize, for the first time in four years, he’s not there.”
The younger Brothers has signed to play at Division II power Missouri St. Louis. To prepare he has a busy summer of golf planned. On Monday he’ll be at the Indiana State Am. The next week is the state junior tourney, with plenty of other events to follow.
“We’ve got tournaments all summer for him,” Bob Brothers said. “He’s a golf junkie. He can’t stop playing.”
The older Brothers said the Prairie View course was a better challenge than the state tourney’s previous location at The Legends in Franklin.
“This is a great test. Some of the holes you’ve got to get through really separates the field.
“This was Michael’s best round at state. He got through the demons he’s had here in (holes No. 7, 8 and 9) by going 1-under par. He was able to walk away proud.”
So did Dwenger’s Miller ... to a point.
“I played OK both days. I’m not extremely happy with how I finished either day. I wasn’t hitting the best I have, but I was putting well.”
Miller was a big reason why the No. 7 Saints rallied to edge Homestead by one stroke to claim 10th place, 623 to 624.
That was a big deal given Miller was the only returning player on a team that has made the state tourney six straight seasons, including consecutive fourth-place finishes. Dwenger will return four qualifiers next season.
“We’re happy with what we did this year,” Miller said. “I’m proud of the guys. I’m excited to see what we have next year. We hope to come back and do better.”
Carroll finished last in the 15-team field with a 658. The Chargers were led by Caydon Yourdon’s 162.
Top-ranked Center Grove was a Wednesday beast, shooting a 7-under 281 to roar past first-round leader Carmel. Center Grove finished with a 3-under 573 team score, 13 strokes better than runner-up Carmel, which led by six strokes after the first round.
Center Grove’s 281 was the best 18-hole score in state history, topping the 283s achieved by Columbus North in 2011 and Noblesville in 2013. The 573 total also was a state record, topping the 575 mark by Westfield in 2013.
Two-time defending champ Westfield was third at 594.
Center Grove junior Noah Gillard was the medalist with a 6-under 138 total, two strokes better than Perry Meridian’s Nick Osterburg. Gillard and teammate Sam Jean both shot 66s on Wednesday.
State Golf Tourney
Prairie View Golf Course
Team scores: 1 Center Grove 573. 2 Carmel 586. 3 Westfield 594. 4 Noblesville 598. 5 Columbus North 608. 6 Zionsville 613. 7 Evansville North 614. 8 Bedford North Lawrence 616. 9 Park Tudor 622. 10 Bishop Dwenger 623. 11 Homestead 624. 12 Fishers 638. 12 Castle 638. 14 Indianapolis Cathedral 647. 15 Carroll 658.
BISHOP DWENGER: Luke Miller 152. Jonathan Filler 153. Logan Ryan 159. Ariel DeLuna 159. Tyler Fink 162.
HOMESTEAD: Austin Redner 152. Garrett Willis 153. Mathew Hope 159. Ellis Yoder 164. Cameron Cook 170.
CARROLL: Caydon Yourdon 162. Xavier Walden 163. Nick Ramsey 166. Cam Boyce 167. Caleb Waugh 186.
AREA INDIVIDUALS: Michael Brothers (Canterbury) 152. Jacob Collins (Norwell) 157.
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