Lindbergh senior makes pitch, pitches in as medalist

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tommy Wuennenberg loves Dalhousie Golf Club, and not just because he wins there.

"There are nice courses in St. Louis, but I like this course," said Wuennenberg, a Lindbergh senior, after winning the Class 4 District 1 meet Tuesday at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau. "It's probably my favorite course. It rewards you for good shots and it hurts you when you hit bad shots.

"The greens roll true, which is always helpful. There's not a lot of bad bumps. What you see is what you get."

Wuennenberg was taken with Dalhousie last summer while playing the American Junior Golf Association tournament. So much so that he met with coach Mike Tyler and lobbied for Dalhousie as the site for the district tournament, from which one team and the other top 10 individuals qualified to the state meet.

With Lindbergh as the district host, Tyler was looking for a venue. Site unseen, he followed up on Wuennenberg's recommendation.

"I called Dalhousie, thinking there's no way, they will just shut us down," Tyler said. "But Andy [Deiro] was very gracious, and Jack [Connell] was as well. They've been fantastic. It's absolutely the best venue and not because we've been successful here. Every member of the staff is top-notch."

Wuennenberg recalled making his case in what he called "a little meeting" with his coach last year: "I told him I played this course last summer, and it's a pretty nice course. I knew Cape Central had some connections here, and it worked out."

It worked out particularly well for Wuennenberg, who shot a 75 last summer in the AJGA qualifier, but then had rounds of 81-83 and missed the cut in the tournament.

He has done better in his return trips this spring.

He was the medalist in the Saxony Lutheran Invitational with a 73 and led Lindbergh to a first-place finish in the 20-team field.

On Tuesday, he topped the district field with a 3-over-par 75, and Lindbergh snared the team title and the automatic state berth by six strokes over Poplar Bluff and Seckman. The Mules, who took the second-place plaque on a tiebreaker, were denied a sixth straight district title.

"You look like a smart person when it works out," said Tyler, who got his first look at the course at the Saxony tourney. "Tommy plays all courses really well, but he really loves this course and told me about it and just said it was a beautiful course and a great venue. Obviously, it likes him, and he likes it."

Wuennenberg played the first nine in even-par 36. But he stumbled to 4-over heading to the 18th tee. That placed him in a three-way tie for first — unbeknownst to him. And it set up a quietly dramatic sequence of events.

Wuennenberg hit into the rough on the left side of the par-5 18th, then punched out and played a 4-iron to within 10 feet of the pin. He birdied the hole to finish one stroke ahead of Poplar Bluff's Trent Hillis, who was in his foursome.

"I knew it was close, but I didn't know we were tied," Wuennenberg said.

Meanwhile, back on 17, Central's Tim Simmons' approach came up short of the green and he ended up with a bogey to drop him out of the first-place tie, leaving him at 5-over. The junior resisted the temptation to try to drive the 18th in two shots, and he missed his birdie chance to finish alone in third place.

Wuennenberg, who won his conference tournament last week, earned a second straight tourney berth.

"Tommy, since I've known him, has worked hard," Tyler said. "He's as tough as nails."

He and the Flyers probably wouldn't mind coming back to Dalhousie for next week's SEMO Conference tournament either.

"I'll see if I can get our school district to move down here so we can play all the time," Tyler said. "It seems the courses like Dalhousie that cater to everybody wanting to play and enjoy the course makes it a special event for all of us. We're very fortunate."

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