LEMONT, Ill. – Devan Schulert and Katie Kim both staged significant comebacks Wednesday to win their divisions at the Golfweek Midwest Junior. Schulert jumped from ninth to first in the boys division while Kim simply grew her margin of victory.
Schulert, of Kingsville, Ontario, carded a first-round 6-over 78 at Cog Hill Golf Club’s famed Dubsdread Course, former site of the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship and before that, the Western Open. Schulert battled slick, elevated greens and lots of bunkers during the opening round. A pair of double bogeys, at Nos. 6 and 11, ran up his score.
On Wednesday, however, Schulert found his stride. He was 3 under by the time he reached the sixth tee thanks to a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle at the par-5 fifth. Schulert busted a drive at that hole, then hit the green with a 4-iron from 210 yards away. He made the 20-foot putt.
Schulert counted four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 8-13. A double bogey at the 16th ran his score up, but not enough for his pursuers to catch him. The round tied his personal best of 69, which he has posted a handful of times in competition. He finished the tournament at 3-over 147.
“I’d say it’s one of the bigger (wins) for sure,” Schulert said of how the Midwest Junior victory fits on his resume. He has won five times on the Golfweek Junior Tour.
Schulert, who will join the University of Detroit roster in the fall, says his game is strongest from 100 yards and in, but he’s working to improve his length.
“I’m always trying to improve,” he said.
Schulert overtook first-round lead Colin Kober, of Southlake, Texas, with his second-round surge. Kober, who opend with 71, returned an 84 on Wednesday that dropped him to fifth at 11-over 155.
Elias Gross, of Calabasas, Calif., was second at 5-over 149 and Mitchell McFarland, of Wheelersburg, Ohio, was third four more shots back.
In the girls division, winner Kim had the kind of experience at Cog Hill that comes from being a local. Kim, 17, grew up playing in junior events at Dubsdread as well as Cog Hill’s other courses. Recently, Kim, who hails from Riverwood, Ill., has been taking lessons from Kevin Weeks, the director of instruction at Cog Hill.
Kim admits to knowing the front nine at Dubsdread better than the back, but she scored better on the back both days. After opening with an uncharacteristic 8-over 80, Kim rebounded with 1-over 73 on Wednesday.
“I really came out here looking to regain some confidence,” Kim said.
A year ago at this event, she opened with 80 for a hefty lead, but came back with 88 to tie for second.
This year, Kim found too many bunkers to score in the first round, she said, but putted well during the second round. She birdied Nos. 5, 7, 11 and 12.
Kim finished at 9-over 153 for the tournament, which was 13 shots better than Jessica Lee of Oak Brook, Ill., and 15 better than Zoe Wong of Hinsdale, Ill.
“It was really just, I took the birdies that came to me,” she said. “I didn’t try for birdies.”
Kim has verbally committed to play for Boston College, a school she chose over Georgetown and a handful of Big 10 schools including Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan. She is excited for the scenery change from Chicago to Boston.
Until it’s time for that move, Kim will focus on qualifying for even bigger events. Next summer that means as many national junior championships as she can play. A return trip to Cog Hill should serve as ample preparation.