Sass, Raines tame Cog Hill at Golfweek Midwest Jr.
Michael Sass knows the fairways of Cog Hill’s Dubsdread Course from watching PGA Tour players tackle it during the BMW Championship in years past. But television only took the 16-year-old so far.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Sass said of the Golfweek Midwest Junior Invitational at Cog Hill, which he won Friday by three shots.
The Louisville, Ky., native finished the 36-hole event at 2-over 146 to beat Ben Sattler by three shots. Sass bogeyed the final hole for a second-round 72. He spent the past two days avoiding Cog Hill’s high rough and plentiful bunkers to win wire-to-wire. Accuracy has always been the key to Sass’ game.
“I didn’t miss many fairways; I wasn’t in trouble off the tee at all,” he said. “I didn’t putt great, but I didn’t putt badly either.”
A first-round 74 left Sass two shots ahead of Sattler and four shots ahead of Nathan Pirtie of Sullivan, Ind. Pirtie could not mount a strong enough charge on Day 2, so the tournament came down to Sass and Sattler.
Sass knew he had a two-shot lead on Sattler entering the par-4 18th, where Sattler put his drive in the upslope of a bunker then flew the green on his third shot. Sass chipped out to the middle of the fairway from behind a tree, hit his third shot on the green and two-putted for the three-shot victory. He calls his safe play a sign of the maturity he’s gained on the golf course. Sass will graduate in 2016, and has just begun to make unofficial visits to colleges.
“I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes. My course management has gotten better,” he said.
Cog Hill’s 18th was even more crucial to the event in the girls’ division. Kylie Raines of Dublin, Ohio birdied it and the 17th to end a strong second-round comeback and win by two shots.
Raines, who will be a senior at Dublin Coffman High School next fall, opened the event with 89. That round included 38 putts, but on Friday, Raines whittled that number down to 31. It resulted in a final-round 77. She was the only player in the girls’ division to break 80 in either round.
“I parred a lot of holes which helped me,” Raines said of the final round. “I got up and down really well.”
Raines, who averages 250 yards off the tee, triple-bogeyed the opening hole Friday, but rallied with five consecutive pars.
I knew I was only 3 over at the time and I knew I could easily par after No. 1,” she said. “I didn’t get mad.”
Raines turned in 41, then birdied the 10th. She made three more bogeys before arriving at the back-to-back par-4 finishing holes. Raines drove into the left rough at No. 17 before hitting a 4-hybrid to 25 feet from 195 yards. She made that putt for birdie before stuffing an 8-iron to 3 feet at No. 18 and making another birdie.
“I love Cog Hill, it was a beautiful course,” she said. “It was probably the hardest course I’ve ever played.”