Preston Bennett knew exactly what the birdie putt meant.
"It gave me chills standing there thinking about it," he said.
By rolling in the short attempt to finish off a round of 7-over 79 at Bogey Hills Golf Course in St. Charles, Mo., the Hannibal junior golfer earned a spot in next week's Class 3 state tournament with a top-10 individual finish at sectionals.
"I figured if I broke 80 I'd have a pretty good chance at going to state," Bennett said. "Realizing that on No. 18 gave me chills."
Although he walked off with a 79, he still had to see what other scores were being posted before relaxing.
"(Hannibal coach Jason) Noland gave me a head nod and was like, ‘You're going to state,'" Bennett said. "I was OK then."
Kanon Kendrick didn't have quite that much concern.
The South Shelby junior rolled past the field, earning individual medalist honors at the Class 1 sectional at Tanglewood Golf Course in Harrisburg, Mo., as he shot an even-par 72. He won by two strokes over Barat Academy's Max Floyd and Van-Far's Rylee Hanson.
"I was very consistent today," Kendrick said. "I was recovering from some of the positions I got in, and my short irons gave me opportunities for birdies."
Kendrick made just two birdies, but he finished with 15 pars. His 72 was the second lowest score in any of the four sectionals and suggests he'll have a chance to improve on last year's eighth-place state finish.
He will tee it up next Monday and Tuesday at Sedalia Country Club for the 36-hole state tournament.
"It gives me a little bit of confidence going into state," Kendrick said. "I really want to compete for a state championship. I'm excited to be going to state. I got to state. That was the goal."
Bennett may have missed out on such an opportunity, but he turned his round around with a par on the sixth hole. He was 6-over through the first five holes and played the final 13 in 1-over. That included finishing the round with back-to-back birdies.
"I just focused on making pars," Bennett said. "It was a lot smoother."
He'll carry the same approach over to Columbia Country Club for the Class 3 state tournament.
"I've put a lot of work into this," Bennett said. "I'm excited for the opportunity."