VERONA — Monday’s round paid off for Lukas Heckmann, who likes to play ambitiously, at a University Ridge course he termed ‘risk-reward’.
Tuesday provided a glimpse of the nastier side of that description as Heckmann’s lead disappeared. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t alone.
Heckmann followed a four-under-par 68 with a harrowing 79 to conclude the WIAA Division 2 State Boys Golf Meet. His round still tied for 10th on the day and was good enough to give him the individual state championship by three strokes.
“Maybe the course was a little tougher, maybe it was day two,” Heckmann said. “I’ve got an aggressive mindset, I stuck with it and I got rewarded. It’s how I play.”
On the back nine, he followed up a triple bogey with a double bogey as his lead slipped away. He then responded with a pair of birdies on 15 and 16 that would prove vital as his 147 strokes topped Madison Edgewood’s Drew Arndt.
“He said coming up to 15 he was going to put it on the green and he did,” Lakeside Lutheran coach Drew Willems said of the 321-yard par-4. “He should have had birdie on 16 yesterday and he was determined to get it today. That’s the mentality he has.”
Heckmann and Willems had to wait as Madison Edgewood, which coasted to the team title, also had Heckmann’s closest pursuers. It was until the final couple of holes that it was clear the course was not conducive to catching Heckmann.
“We thought when we finished that (Edgewood’s Rory) Gierhart would have a birdie on the back nine,” Willems said. “But he shot six over so it chewed him up and spit him up too. We felt confident after they finished 14.”
In hindsight, the player of the day was whoever determined pin placements. Between those and the speed of the greens, it produced an environment that encouraged high scores.
“I thought yesterday the conditions were less than conducive,” Luther Prep coach Ken Taylor said. “They were difficult and I heard that from a number of coaches that the pin placements did no one any favors.”
Luther Prep senior Daniel Nitardy was in Heckmann’s group and, like Heckmann, was scrambling constantly. He finished with an 82 on the day and tied for 13th overall.
Heckmann and Nitardy both had birdies on the second hole but that joy was short-lived. On the fourth hole, Heckmann found the high rough and without a sickle in his bag, he wound up foraging his way to a ‘snowman’ quad-bogey 8, his first in an eternity.
“It’s been a while,” Heckmann said. “It felt like a 14.”
Heckmann handled it like you’d expect someone that has Tom and Jerry club covers to handle it. He cracked jokes, including an enthusiastic ‘3-8-3!’ to Willems after he parred the following hole.
“He took an eight and that usually just kills kids,” Willems said. “But he’s got an ability to focus on the next shot. Golf’s better when he’s having fun and that’s definitely his mindset.”
Heckmann would play the eight holes after the snowman at even par with a bogey on 7 and a birdie on the ninth hole. Willems and Heckmann shared an amusing high-five on the tee at the seventh hole after Heckmann, who evidently had his fill of the high rough on 4, teed off with an iron rather than take his usual drive in the high rough on the left.
Having a lead drain away on the back nine of the final round will take the wind out of anyone’s sails. Heckmann’s improved maturity and poise combined with his willingness to stick with what got him the lead paid off in the end.
“I don’t often have a quad, triple and double in the same round,” Heckmann said. “It was definitely a test.
“I missed a 3-footer by two feet. You don’t feel in control really but you have to take a deep breath and come in as low as you can.”
Heckmann also knows that he’s got the ability to get some of those strokes back when the risks don’t pan out. He might lose some strokes but never his sense of humor.
“It’s a risk-reward course and it’s built to amplify that,” Heckmann said. “You can make high numbers out there.
“But you get some pretty good stories to tell by playing that way. Think of all the places you’ll go. It’s more fun that way.”
Nitardy’s round of 82 involved plenty of damage control as well. Taylor took the conditions into account.
“There were some great bogeys out there,” Taylor said. “They were needed to minimize the oil leaks and Dan did a good job of digging in and we want our guys to finish strong.”
Willems echoed Taylor’s thoughts on the domino effect of the pin positions.
“When you hit good putts that weren’t going in, a lot of coaches talked about that,” Willems said. “Any shot in the rough was an automatic bogey and Daniel had that same kind of problem that Lukas did.
“It was kind of a battle of attrition.”
TUESDAY’S WIAA DIVISION 2 BOYS GOLF STATE MEET
Team scores: Madison Edgewood 605, Edgerton 644, Lakeland 650, Rice Lake 654, Kewaskum 661, Peshtigo 671, Waupun 676, Winneconne 706.
Top individuals: Heckmann, LL, 147; Arndt, ME, 150; Bengston, L, 151; Phelan, ME, 151; Gierhart, ME, 152; Gilmore, ME, 152; Zarling, Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 154; Cuskey, RL, 155; Jacoboson, P, 157; Pellegrini, Brookfield Academy, 157; Schlosser, K, 158; Johnson, E, 159; Forsting, E, 160; Nitardy, LP, 160.