Birdie-filled finish caps Frederick’s state run
Walking off the final green last Wednesday, Corydon Central’s Mitchell Frederick had a much different feel than when he headed to the scoring tent the day prior at the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s boys’ golf state final.
On Tuesday, after a first-round 9-over par 81 score, Frederick stayed in the clubhouse briefly before heading to the range to work out swing kinks.
Solving the swing issues and a looser approach led to a more pleasant final trip around the 18 holes at the Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. It also paid off in a big way.
Playing the final 11 holes on fire, making four birdies for a streak of 4-under par play, Frederick was able to close with a flurry. One of six golfers to go under par on a mild day with scattered rain, Frederick ended with a 1-under par second round.
A 10-foot putt to save par on No. 9, his final hole after starting on No. 10, saw the 2015 Corydon Central graduate pump his fist.
Scoring a two-day total of 8-over par 152, Frederick jumped from 60th place after day one to tie for 27th out of 100 players.
‘The second day was where I wanted to be,’ Frederick said. ‘If I would have been just a couple of shots back on the first day, who knows what would have happened.’
It was the second straight appearance at the state meet for Frederick. A year ago, he finished tied for fifth with teammate Timothy Wiseman.
Last Wednesday, he was set to be the first off the tee, but a delay in anticipated inclement weather that never materialized pushed the start time back an hour. After the work on the range to iron out his swing, Frederick was ready to go at Prairie View, a course hosting the event for the first time.
‘I was disappointed in the delayed start because I felt real good after the range,’ Frederick said.
The key for the turnaround was striking the ball better on day two.
‘I found out I was swinging like (fairway shots) were sand shots ‘ going way outside and coming across the ball ‘ so it created some slices,’ Frederick said. ‘(Coach Kevin) Nash figured it out when we were on the range, so we hit a lot of balls.’
After finding the bunker on his first hole Wednesday, Frederick escaped No. 10 with a bogey. His first birdie of the tournament came on the par-3 12th hole.
Once back at even for the day, Frederick had a tough string of three bogeys in a row.
‘I got a good birdie on No. 12,’ Frederick said. ‘It felt good, and then the next three I bogeyed each one. In the back of my mind, I wondered if it was going to be another up-and-down day.’
The bogey on No. 15 would be his last of the tourney. Frederick found his groove. He gained all three strokes back with birdies on Nos. 17, 18 and 1.
‘I hit 10 greens in a row at one point, from 17 through eight,’ Frederick said. ‘I hit a lot of greens, and the putts I had weren’t 30 feet. Several were close and makable. I didn’t make them all. I had a couple I left out.’
Going for the green in two on No. 18, a par-5, paid off with an eventual birdie.
‘No. 18 was a unique hole,’ Nash said. ‘The other two players in his group hit approach shots on the green but one makes a 50-foot putt and the other makes a 40-foot putt. Then Mitch has a downhill, side-hill six or seven footer that’s tough and he makes it.’
Nash could see Frederick was in the zone at the turn.
‘Once he settled in, he was locked in,’ Nash said. ‘It was fun watching him play. He did have a little stretch where he struggled after the birdie on 12, but, after hole seven, he hit 12 greens in a row.’
One after another after No. 1, Frederick made par after par until the eighth. On the hole protected by fairway and green-side bunkers, Frederick made birdie on the par-4, bringing him to 1-under for the day. He was one of three players to card a tournament best five birdies on Wednesday.
Saving par on the final hole pleased Frederick and the close to his prep career. He’ll play at the University of Southern Indiana this fall.
‘I made a good par save on nine,’ Frederick said. ‘I had a nice chunk on the fairway where I was worried about it going in the water. I didn’t want the round to go to waste, so saving par with a good putt felt good.’
A better feel for the greens ‘ speed and slope ‘ proved a difference maker.
‘Putting was better. I had some that went right past the lip that could have gone either way for some more birdies,’ Frederick said. ‘I was OK with that.’
Once day one was in the books, Nash said he spoke with Frederick about relaxing.
‘We worked some technical things out and talked about going out and having fun,’ Nash said. ‘Not too many people get a chance to come to state, let alone two years in a row. … Now Mitch will say it’s because he ate Mexican food and played Putt-Putt.’
Among the team competition, No. 3 Westfield combined to shoot 584, holding off top-ranked Center Grove (588) by four strokes for its second title in the last three years. Zionsville was well back in third with a 603 with Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger and Hamilton Southeastern posting 605s.
Also during the state finals, Austin Bratton (Castle) had a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th hole. It’s the fifth ace in state finals history and the first since 2004.
Competing as an individual, Frederick said state was different without a teammate or entire team.
‘It helped having Nash here,’ Frederick said. ‘I could talk to him after every hole. We talked about club selection and where to aim off the tee. It really helped a lot. I still wish the team would have gone.’
As a whole, the season to Frederick was summed up by his state performance. Early in the year (similar to day one), he had some struggles, but late (similar to day two) he closed with a flourish of pars and birdies.
‘The second day was how I played at sectional and regional,’ Frederick said. ‘I was more confident in my swing and stroke. It’s a great learning experience to take to college. I know I can bounce back from one day to the next.’
Medalist honors at state went to Cole Bradley (Harrison West Lafayette) after winning a playoff against Spencer Klimek (Columbia City). Both had two-day totals of 172 (2-under par). Ironically, Frederick will be paired with Klimek during first-round play of the Indiana Amateur Championship, which began Monday and will end tomorrow (Thursday).
For the Corydon Central team, which had hopes of making state as a whole, had its season come to a close.
‘It was a fun year,’ Nash said. ‘It’s one I hate seeing end. It’s tough. I get emotional talking about those guys. The banquet will be something special. There are a lot of special kids I’ve coached, but, when you get a whole group of seniors that are playing every match, and you know how hard they work, it’s emotional.’
From the Providence Regional, Center Grove (588) was second, Bloomington South (626) was eighth and Floyd Central (667) was 15th.
‘It would have been great to have all five guys there,’ Nash said. ‘We weren’t going to keep up with Westfield or Center Grove, but we could have finished in the top five, maybe top three if we would have played really well. Looking back at the scores, I know our team would have belonged with those teams.’
State Finals Day 1
The start to Mitchell Frederick’s opening round at the Indiana High School Athletic Association state final had its ups and downs. Most of the time when the 2015 Corydon Central graduate had a club in his hand, he was searching for the sweet spot on face.
At times it was there, but, more often than not, Frederick admitted he was searching for the perfect feel and swing.
‘I was trying to find whatever swing worked today,’ Frederick said after a 9-over par 81. ‘I missed some right, some left, some short, some long so I didn’t really know. I didn’t have an idea of how to fix it on the course. I played with it the best I could and, basically, fought the whole day.’
Four of the opening five holes saw Frederick card bogeys last Tuesday in the first round at Prairie View Golf Club. First off the tee on No. 10, the air was heavy and the course was wet from overnight rains. As the round progressed, the humidity level rose along with the temperature.
On No. 15, a short tee shot on the par-3 saw Frederick get up and down for par. The par started a string of three straight. A bomb drive on No. 16 and a solid second shot leaving a 12-foot putt on No. 17 set up pars.
The string ended with a three putt on No. 18, a par-5, for a bogey.
As the swing started to come around, play began to even out further. Following back-to-back pars on holes one and two, Frederick stood on the fairway on No. 3 with a new onlooker. A young doe stood and watched from the tall grass of the neighboring rough. What the deer saw was Frederick stick a second shot inside 10 feet. The putt for birdie, however, just missed reaching the cup.
The third was one of few close birdie chances for Frederick to score.
‘I was a little more confident with approach shots on the back but nothing too great,’ he said. ‘I think my closest birdie putt was seven feet but, other than that, the others were more than 20. My approach shots weren’t very good. My tee shots were OK.’
Bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6 took Frederick to 7-over par heading into the final three holes. A bunker save on No. 7 led to a par, followed by a big drive setting up a birdie chance that didn’t fall on No. 8.
The day didn’t end as planned on No. 9 when another monster tee shot stopped a few yards short of a pond that protected the putting surface. Frederick’s second shot found the water, the second time his ball reached the hazard in his round, leading to a double bogey.
Frederick said the course had its challenges for players long off the tee.
‘There are some fairway bunkers on spots that I normally drive,’ he said. ‘The greens today were faster than they were in the practice round (Monday), so I wasn’t used to that. I didn’t play the course today.’
After the round, Frederick said it was on to the next day.
‘I’m trying to get past today and put it in the back of my mind and not worry about it tomorrow,’ Frederick said. ‘I want to play the best I can in my last high school match.’
Team scores: 1. Westfield 584, 2. Center Grove 588, 3. Zionsville 603, 4t. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 605, 4t. Hamilton Southeastern 605, 6. Plainfield 621, 7. Homestead 623, 8. Bloomington South 626, 9t. Columbia City 627, 9t. Noblesville 627, 11. Harrison (West Lafayette) 629, 12. Castle 630, 13. Oak Hill 642, 14. Martinsville 666, 15. Floyd Central 667.
Individual scores: 1. Cole Bradley* (Harrison West Lafayette) 143, 2. Spencer Klimek (Columbia City) 143, 3t. Austin Crowder (Center Grove) 144, 3t. Callahan Elzey (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) 144, 3t. Zach Schroeder (Lebanon) 144, 3t. Tomas Lewis (Westfield) 144, 3t. Timmy Hildebrand (Westfield) 144, 3t. Keegan Bronnenberg (Muncie Central) 144.
*won two-hole playoff