Boys golf: Birdie machine Kyle Meihofer leads Valpo into state finals
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or firstname.lastname@example.org June 9, 2013 11:06PM
Regional golf - Battle Ground Golf Club. Valparaiso #1 golfer Kyle Miehofer. Jerry Schultheiss~for Sun-Times Media.
Where: The Legends Golf Club, Franklin, Indiana
When: Tuesday, Wednesday
Who: Valparaiso team; Mike Lee, Crown Point; Jack Clancy, Marquette; Nicholas Good, Lake Central
Outlook: The Vikings believe they have a shot to win and why shouldn’t they? They shot a 298 at the Lafayette Regional. That was only three shots behind the best team score coming out of the five regionals. There are fewer teams this year at the tournament (15, down six from last year) and there is no cut. Every player is capable of going low and two of them — Bobby Jacobs and Kyle Meihofer — are likely all-staters.
Updated: July 11, 2013 6:44AM
Kyle Meihofer is one supremely confident golfer. The slightly built, wiry Valparaiso senior, around 5-foot-8, can hit a golf ball 300 yards.
And he can go low, shooting a 5-under-67 earlier this year at the Rensselaer Invitational at Curtis Creek.
Meihofer, who is going to play golf at Illinois State University next year, is just the kind of player that you’d like to ride into the state finals with, which is what the Vikings are doing on Tuesday.
Throw in Bobby Jacobs, who was actually slightly better than Meihofer in Duneland Conference play, and you can see why Valparaiso has a legitimate shot to contend in the state finals at Legends Golf Course in Franklin.
“Of course, we want to win,” Andrew Gariup, who shot a 74 at the Lafayette Regional, said.
And, of course, they really do have a shot.
Consider this: Alex Pancek, their No. 5 golfer shot a 75 at Battle Ground Golf Club and Jacobs, who set a course record at Forest Park the week before with a 64, struggled with a 78.
Valparaiso golf coach Wayne Lichtenberger would like to think that won’t happen again.
Meihofer, though, is a birdie machine. He plays almost reflexively, with little time between shots. On No. 18, at Battle Ground, he had 140 yards left after bombing a drive 296 yards. He took out his pitching wedge and capped a flawless back nine by dropping his shot about two feet from the cup. That gave him a 3-under on the back.
Meihofer said his quick style, which matches his twitch muscles, is a matter of not wanting to give himself a chance to get distracted.
“I just don’t want to give myself a chance to think about bad things when I stand over the ball,” he said.
Meihofer’s own high standards have created a whole new set of challenges for himself mentally.
He was 6-under at one point this season after about a month of play — then he hit a mini slump.
“He was only around even par,” Lichtenberger joked.
Meihofer said that his problems centered around ball position and following through to the target — something that his coach Mat Blair helped him with.
Blair didn’t have to help him stay upbeat. Meihofer has adopted a perpetually positive attitude to help him through every round.
“You have to be mentally strong on the course,” he said. “You can’t let a bad shot ruin your round. You really have to focus on being even keeled.”
Meihofer, who missed the cut at the state tournament last year, isn’t at all concerned about how he’ll play. He wants his team to do well. Because there is no cut, the first day pressure shouldn’t be as great for the teams.
“I don’t care how I do personally,” he said. “I’d like to win the state tournament with my four best friends.”