Golfers put work to the test

Bryan Veginski

Washington has placed seventh in boys golf in back-to-back seasons.

The Panthers aim this season to improve on that Mid-Illini Conference standing starting Tuesday when they travel to Canton for the league opener.

Third-year head coach Dan Garske said the linksters worked hard in the summer to get ready for the 2015 campaign, which was scheduled to begin Monday with an 18-hole outing at Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin.

Drew Pershing and Matt Johnson both graduated. They earned two second-team all-M-I awards apiece. Pershing shot a 157 to tie for 25th place at the IHSA Class 2A state final as a senior.

Tyler Coughlin, Christian Deets and Hunter Watts, all seniors, line up as the top returning Washington players.

The rest of the roster includes: juniors Jacob Harlan, Andrew Malcom and Matt Stolz; sophomores Nicholas Bucher, Jacob Cooley, Brett Coughlin, Richard Fitzpatrick, Kendal Hofer, Logan Miller, Kodee Stegmaier and Kyler Stegmaier; and freshmen Brock Boedling, Adam Kinsinger and Nicholas Sutherland.

Making a move in the conference will not be easy.

Defending state and M-I champion Morton lost only one senior from its top six. Among those back is individual state title winner Tommy Kuhl, a sophomore.

About the league, Garske said, “(It’s) very tough with Morton returning state champs. Pekin is always good. Limestone will be much better.”

The Panthers’ schedule is light on home appearances at Fairlakes Golf Club, including just two out of seven M-I matches.

Washington this season is the conference tournament host. The team will utilize Quail Meadows Golf Course for the 18-hole event on Oct. 1.

The Panthers added two new tournaments — the Coyote Creek Classic and LaSalle-Peru Invitational — to their slate.

The first occurs Saturday at Coyote Creek Golf Club and the second on Oct. 3 at Senica’s Oak Ridge ends the regular season. Both are top-notch layouts.