BULL VALLEY – It didn’t take long for Jacobs senior Roslyn Leitner to feel good Tuesday at the McHenry County Junior Amateur at Boone Creek Golf Club.
“I went up and down on the first hole, and I was excited,” Leitner said. “It really helped get me going and build my confidence. I had a lot of up and downs. I didn’t hit many greens in regulation, but my chipping kept me in there.”
Leitner made par on the first hole of the Prairie nine and kept rolling from there, carding a personal-best 6-over-par 77 and taking a one-shot lead into the last round of the two-day, 36-hole McHenry County Junior Golf Association tournament.
Crystal Lake Central junior Renata Petersen had a 78, and Leitner’s high school teammate, senior Lauren Kempf, is third in the girls senior division with a 79.
Leitner did not record any birdies in her first round but parred 13 of 18 holes. She shot 1 over on the Prairie nine and 5 over on the Creekside nine. Leitner has hit the ball considerably farther this summer, leading to some lower scores.
“You always need to improve on your short game, but my long irons and distance have really increased this past year,” Leitner said. “I’ve probably gained about 10 yards on each club. It helps a lot on those par-5s. I just need to keep my mind clear and take it one shot at a time.”
Kempf’s 78 was a personal best at Boone Creek.
“I’m just going to go back out there and have fun tomorrow,” Kempf said. “I need to focus on myself, not the competition, and just let it play out.”
Crystal Lake Central sophomore Bayden Hubacher recorded the lowest score on Day 1 with a 5-over 76 and leads Elgin Academy sophomore Jonathan Vogt (79) by three shots in the boys junior division.
McHenry’s Ethan Jensen and Elgin Academy’s Alex Berlin are tied for third with 82s.
Hubacher, the defending McHenry County Junior Amateur champion, is shooting for his fifth MCJGA tournament victory this summer. He won the Golf Club of Illinois Open, Pinecrest Open, Foxford Hills Open and Blackstone Open.
Boone Creek is not one of Hubacher’s favorite destinations, but the Tigers sophomore has fared well on the course.
“It’s kind of everything I don’t like,” Hubacher said. “It’s a short course. I hit it a lot farther, but I’m not as much of a straight hitter. It takes a lot of course management for me. I have to hit iron off of the tee, just to keep it on the fairway and have a shot at the green.”
Hubacher made three birdies and eight pars in his opening round. He has fired rounds of 77 or better in all four of his wins, including a personal best of 75 in the first MCJGA tournament of the summer.
“I just have to keep doing what I did today, play it safe, and not try to do anything too stupid,” Hubacher said. “I’m really just trying to keep it consistent.”
Vogt was even on the last seven holes to put himself in contention for the title. He felt luck was on his side to end the first round.
“I hit a putt way too hard and caught a break,” Vogt said of the last hole. “It was downhill, and it smacked the flag stick. It would have rolled way off. I had a lot of lucky stuff happen today, but I think I played well. I tried to be smart. The course isn’t super long, and I just tried to make pars.”
Wauconda graduate Matt Szmajda fired an 80 and leads the boys senior division. Woodstock graduate Evan Bridges, a three-sport athlete for the Blue Streaks in golf, basketball and baseball, is three shots off the pace with an 83.
Crystal Lake South senior Jimmy Karnick (89) is third.
Szmajda, who will play at NCAA Division II Purdue Northwest, and Bridges, who will play at D-III Carroll University, played in the first group Tuesday. The two will be paired together, along with Karnick, again in the top group Wednesday.
“We’ve gotten to be pretty good friends at these,” said Szmajda, who recorded two birdies in his round. “My putting was on today, and I thought Evan’s putting was pretty good, too. I thought the greens rolled pretty true.”
Bridges, who was second in the same event a year ago, said he still is working to straighten his swing.
“Baseball and golf don’t mix too well,” said Bridges, who shot even par on his final five holes with one birdie. “It usually takes awhile to get my baseball swing out and start hitting it straighter. You can still see it on the course. It’s not all the way there yet.”