Herald-Whig

Beyond the Scorecard: McCulla's time on range pays off

Alex McCulla watches his approach shot during the 69th annual Quincy Invitational at Westview Golf Course on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 19, 2018 12:40 am Updated: Aug. 19, 2018 12:43 am

Alex McCulla's last six tournaments have yielded some impressive results. The way he rebounded from the one hiccup is equally impressive.

The Quincy Notre Dame sophomore golfer is collectively 15-under par in that span, having won individual medalist honors at Saturday's 69th annual Quincy Invitational with a 3-under 68 to go along with the championship of the Kiwanis Memorial Youth Tournament in Jacksonville in which he finished 36 holes at 6-under. The only tournament he hasn't broken par in was the season-opening D.A. Weibring Invitational in which he shot 3-over 74.

"I went to the range every night after that," McCulla said. "I just wasn't hitting it good. It helped. I've been ball striking it pretty well."

He's giving himself opportunities for birdies by doing so.

Last Tuesday, the Raiders finished second at the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational as McCulla shot a 5-under 67 and tied with Bloomington Central Catholic's Parker Wisdom for the top spot. Wisdom took medalist honors by winning a two-hole playoff, but McCulla's round was marked by consistency. He hit 17 greens in regulation.

He followed that up by hitting 16 greens in regulation Saturday. He only wished he would have made more birdies.

"I hit it well, but I didn't putt very well," said McCulla, who had a pair of three putts. "I missed four of five inside of 10 feet. They weren't the easiest putts, but I didn't take advantage of a lot of scoring chances."

Still, he's not going to quibble over shooting a 68.

"You're still going to take that every day and be happy with it," McCulla said.

 

Penn's improvement continues

Brock Penn wasn't in Quincy High School's lineup last year during the Quincy Invitational, but he played as an individual and posted an 84, a score that would have counted in the top five. By the end of his sophomore season, he had climbed into the mix and shot an 85 at the Western Big Six Conference championships and an 88 at the Class 3A sectional.

He continues to rise.

Penn posted a 3-over 38 on the back nine Saturday and carded a 7-over 78. It is the second time in three tournaments he has been in the 70s after posting Quincy's best individual score at the Alton Tee-Off Invitational at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course on Tuesday. Such progress is promising, especially when he shows the mental make-up to handle adversity.

Penn accidentally stepped on his ball under some leaves short of the green on the 18th hole and was forced to take a penalty stroke. He rebounded on his final hole of the day by getting up and down with a nice chip on the par-4 first hole to guarantee himself a medal. He tied for 11th.

"There were good holes and bad holes," Penn said. "It just seemed to all come together."

 

Siebers nearly goes birdie-birdie

A quality approach shot and solid putting stroke allowed Luke Siebers to make birdie on the par-4 18th and get himself into the top five individually. He nearly tied for second when his lengthy putt on the par-4 first hole bounced in and out of the cup.

Siebers' approach shot landed on the left side of the green, leaving him 40 feet or more for his birdie attempt. He hit his putt with pace, but he had the right read. The ball hit the cup and popped out, leaving him with a short tap-in for par to finish a round of 2-over 73.

"I thought it was going past the hole," Siebers said with a smile. "I got lucky."

He created some of his own luck by staying in the fairway consistently. The junior has posted a score in the 70s in all three tournaments this season.