EFFINGHAM — Effingham sophomore Jackson Wendling can’t drive a car yet, but he sure can drive a golf ball.
Wendling was 4-under par through his first nine holes at the IHSA Class 2A boys golf regional at Effingham Country Club on Tuesday.
A double-bogey on hole 13 dropped Wendling to 1-under par. He’d finish the day at that mark, carding a 71 on the par 72 course.
Wendling’s 71 earned him medalist honors. The rest of the Hearts also pitched in and helped Effingham win the team title with a score of 312, just one stroke ahead of runner-up Highland, and five in front of third-place Mt. Vernon.
“I just made some putts there and I was hitting some good shots,” Wendling said of his front-nine performance.
As Wendling hit the back nine, the weather changed from a gentle breeze and light rain to a stiff wind and blowing rain.
“I knew the scores were going to be higher, due to the weather,” Wendling said. “I just couldn’t worry about it and had to keep grinding it out on the back nine.”
Managing to finish under par was a goal for Wendling, something that he said will give him confidence heading into sectionals.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Anytime you can go into a tournament feeling good and playing good, it’s definitely a positive.”
The other Effingham golfers also had solid days, despite battling tough weather conditions.
Anthony Lechman shot a 76 to finish in third place overall and Anthony Barrett carded a 79 to finish ninth.
Jake Linders (86), Sean Sandifer (95) and Reed Schafer (110) rounded out the scoring for Effingham.
“The win marked the Hearts’ first regional victory since 1961. The team advances to the sectional round, to be played Monday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale.
Highland (313) and Mt. Vernon (319) also advanced as teams.