Smith, DeWitt earn unofficial POY honors in LEJGA

Kurtz, Mollohan post low rounds in season finale at Sleepy Hollow
Butch Wagner
Jul 24, 2013

The final official Lake Erie Junior Golf Association tournament Tuesday at Sleepy Hollow proved to be quite interesting to say the least.
 Castalia's Tyler Smith and Bellevue's Dylan DeWitt were unofficially crowned the Player of the Year in their respective boys age groups — Smith a repeat winner in Division D (17-19) and DeWitt a first-time champion in Division (14-16).
Smith clinched his crown with a runner-up finish, and wound up the season with three firsts and three second-place efforts. He fired 35-38—73 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, DeWitt came from behind to win the points race in his age bracket with medalist honors on a round of 38-37—75. He moved past leader Noah Sampson, 14, of Clarkston, Mich., who managed 40-45—85 and was well down the list. Sampson had a 2.5 point lead going in.
The official announcement for the top awards will be made Monday evening at Fremont Country Club following the Fremont Invite, a tournament for individuals who  played well during the season tests.
The top performances for the day were submitted by Joey Kurtz (Port Clinton) and Nikki Mollohan (Edison).
Kurtz carded 38-33 for an even par 71 for boys 17-19, while Mollohan won her first title for girls 15-19 with a steady round of 39-39—78.
Smith had four birdies on the day and chipped the ball into the cup on his final hole of the day (18) for one of the birdies. He also made short putts on Nos. 2, 4 and 11.
"I hit some great shots today and also hit some bad shots. Part of that was I haven''t been practicing as much as before, but I love to compete and to repeat as the Player of the Year is great," said Smith, a recent Margaretta graduate. "I just want to have fun when I play. I realize there is more to life than just playing golf."
Smith is headed for Ferris State University in Michigan in the fall and has already passing his playing ability test with rounds of 68-71—139 at Ashland Brookside, where 151 was needed to move on.
He is in the golf management program and the basic classes are just ahead.
DeWitt bested his Bellevue High School junior teammate Isaac Hartley by one stroke. Hartley won the POY award in the same age group a year ago.
"Winning this means a lot, and it keeps the award in our family (Bellevue players). I had just one birdie today, that came on the 17th hole and it was the big factor in the end," DeWitt said.
While he had birdied 17, Hartley had a bogey five and that two-stroke difference proved vital.
"I had a flyer on my second shot form the fairway and that usually doesn't happen, but it did for me," Hartley said. He had 38-38—76 for the runner-up position in the field.
"I had a dozen up and downs today and kept on making my par putts. I just wanted to accept the pars and move on," DeWitt said.
Kurtz was red hot on the back nine with just 13 putts and short birdie putts on Nos. 10, 11 and 13 to go with a 15-footer on No. 15.
"Somehow I managed to turn things around on the back side after that 38 on the easy side, said the Port Clinton senior. "I hit just five fairways and eight greens for the day, but still finished even par."
Mollohan cracked 80 for the first time in LEJGA play and wound up winning her first crown. She scored a par on 17 in which she managed to get up and down to take the lead over her playing partner, Huron's Rafaella Gioffre, who fashioned 39-40--79.
"Everything just fell together for me, except for my driving which was a little shaky. My second shots were good and I didn't  have a three-putt today," Mollohan said.
She is a senior on the Edison girls golf team.
Gioffre felt she played good enough to win.
"I played good, but didn't hit the greens enough," she said.
Alexis Jones  of Shelby had already cemented the POY award in the oldest girls age group.
While Kurtz and Smith finished 1-2 for boys 17-19, Ryan Wilburn (Bellevue) placed third with 38-37—75.
Three area players were next in line at 77. Garret Rupert (Clyde) had 37-40, Tom Pressler (Bellevue) 39-38 and Chris Stang (Norwalk) 38-39.
In the 14-16 bracket, Bo Pettegrew (Huron) and Alexander Gedart (Woodville) tied for third with 77s. Pettegrew earned the third-place trophy in a scorecard playoff (lowest back nine score). Pettegrew shot 38-39 and Gedart 35-42.
Collin Crooks (Sandusky) checked in with 40-39—79, while Tyler Puckrin (Perkins) tallied 38-43—81 and Shane Meek (Port Clinton) 40-41—81.
Huron's Kylie Greulich and Norwalk's Jackie Weisenberger each had 82. Greulich recorded 40-42 and Weisenberger 38-44. Brianna Stokes (Bellevue) added 45-41—86 and Lauren Crooks (Edison)
In the girls 10-14 class (Division E), Macy Hanus — the POY — topped the list at 41 while Julia Hippely (Huron) added 44 and Jordan Pruitt (Milan) 48.
For boys 10-11, Nolan Haynes coasted to honors with 42 and Carson Kennedy (Castalia) followed with 51.