Golf: Fun, competition hallmarks of iTour
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media August 8, 2013 9:02PM
Luke Trent (from left), Gehrig Hollatz, Jason Chobar, Mike Cappell, Ryan Johnson and Kent Hudson. | Supplied photo
1: Ryan Johnson, Minooka
2: Joe Ziebell, Lemont
3: Zach Behnke, Oswego East
4: Dan Anfield, Minooka
5: Max Behnke, Oswego East
6: Brian Ward, Plainfield South
Two-Man Challenge at Mistwood: Jason Chobar and Mike Cappel, Minooka
Whitetail Ridge: Ryan Ponton, Bradley (77)
Wedgewood: Ryan Johnson (80)
Match Play at Carillon: Joe Ziebell, Lemont
Broken Arrow: Dan Anfield,
Heritage Bluffs: Anfield (75)
Prairie Bluff: Joe Paloian,
iCup Championship at Mistwood: Isaiah Pina, Plainfield South (81)
Updated: September 10, 2013 6:16AM
In playing with the Illinois Junior Golf Association a summer ago, Ryan Johnson was quite the busy golfer.
As part of his busy schedule, he managed to play one tournament on another tour in the southwest and west suburbs, the iTour.
Playing for iTour this summer on a regular basis, Johnson made the most of his commitment. The Minooka sophomore won the iTour’s Player of the Year award.
“When you’re playing in the tournaments, you have a lot of fun, but it gets competitive late in the round,” Johnson said. “It was fun all summer, and I got to play with a lot of new people, see their games, too.”
The brainchild of Tim Boe, the tour director and also the boys golf and basketball coach at Plainfield South, the iTour just wrapped up its fourth season. Golfers competed in eight tournaments starting in June and running through early August.
Points were awarded based on players’ finishes at each tournament. Johnson had 10,025 points over seven events to Lemont’s Joey Ziebell’s 8,187.5 points over five events.
“The kids enjoy it, and it’s good, competitive golf,” Boe said. “We provide the opportunity for the kids to do that, go out and play, and they really get into it with the points. It’s been neat too to see kids come back to the tour.”
Johnson won the iTour championship June 10 at Wedgewood with an 80, defeating runner-up Ziebell (86). It was Johnson’s lone first-place finish. He also had three second-place finishes and one third.
“Last year, I’d been having trouble with my drive, but this year I added 30 or 40 yards and I was hitting fairways,” Johnson said. “That gave me an advantage, and I was putting well, too.”
As the summer progressed and he kept playing so well, Johnson’s friends started to speak up some, trying to get in his head. With a lead in the points standings, the pressure was on.
“I heard about it a little bit from my friends,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I figured I was up near the top, or at least up close to (the lead).”
Plainfield South’s Isaiah Pina, the 2012 Player of the Year, won the iCup Championship at Mistwood, shooting an 81.
The iTour also played a tour challenge at Dubsdread, playing against top golfers from tournaments run by Cog Hill and Piper Glenn in Springfield, the Cog Hill All Stars managing the win.
Boe said 52 golfers played over the course of the summer, averaging about 24 golfers per event. The tour has grown in each year of its existence, Boe doing his best to keep things fresh, such as opening the tour with a two-man scramble event in June.
For players, including Johnson, it gives another chance to stay fresh, keep playing and prep for the upcoming high school season. Johnson played on the varsity at Minooka as a freshman.
“I think I can do pretty good this season, and I’m playing with a lot more confidence,” Johnson said.