DIXON — Narrow fairways and difficultly slow greens didn’t hold Rochelle sophomore Griffin Ohlinger back from firing one of the lowest scores of the afternoon on Tuesday, when the Hub golf team opened the 2020 season against Dixon and Freeport at Timber Creek.
Ohlinger’s extensive offseason work was on display Tuesday, as his putter and wedges keyed a team-low 43-stroke round that pushed Rochelle’s varsity team to wins over both the Dukes and the Pretzels. The Hubs scored 191 on the afternoon, while Dixon totaled 196 and Freeport finished with 198. Rochelle is 2-0 to start its season for the second straight year.
“My heart was still racing through the first couple of holes,” Ohlinger said. “I’ve been trying to get 18 holes in every day and hit the driving range on days where I’m not playing any holes. It felt great to be back out there with my teammates. My putting is 10 times better than where it was at the start of last season and my wedge shots were really good as well.”
Senior Megan Thiravong finished one stroke behind Ohlinger, carding 44 while senior Reese Kirk added 51 and senior newcomer Dominic Williams rounded out Rochelle’s top four varsity scores with 53. While Timber Creek presented players with many challenges, Ohlinger and the Hubs managed the course just well enough to walk away with a pair of victories.
“There were a lot of hills around the course so I had to hit my drives in the right places, otherwise I’d be left with a tough second shot where I’d have to leave an iron short,” Ohlinger said. “The tee boxes were hard and the greens were slow and a little bumpy… I’ve been working on my putting a lot over the summer, and I want to continue hitting my wedges well.”
Tuesday was the first of three days in which the Hubs will be competing this week. Rochelle will host Ottawa for an Interstate 8 meet at Fairways on Wednesday before traveling to Hughes Creek in Elburn for another conference match against Kaneland on Thursday. The Hubs could certainly use more low-40 scores from Ohlinger, who immediately played his way up to the varsity level as a freshman and is looking to continue improving his game this fall.
“The boys are really improving,” Thiravong said. “Reese has been putting the ball well and Griffin’s hitting the ball straight and getting nice cuts in his drives. I believe we’re going to have a great season and I’m really proud of the boys… I want to help the younger boys improve their ball contact in the fairways and on the greens and tee boxes so that when us seniors are gone, they’ll be ready to take our places and perform just as well as we have.”