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Dalhousie member ties for 21st after strong final two rounds
Dexter's Chance Holden had a good excuse to miss his first day of school Thursday.
And he gave Dalhousie Golf Club a local member to brag on in the final round of the AJGA Dalhousie Junior Championship.
Holden, who rallied from first-round difficulties to make the cut Wednesday, closed his tournament with a second consecutive 73 to tie for 21st place in the field of 105.
"It was a pretty good tournament," Holden said. "I'm just glad I made the cut. And once I made the cut, I didn't feel any pressure and put another solid round together."
The strong finish made Holden, who ended with an 11-over 227, wish he could have the first round over again.
"That's how I feel, but this golf course is so tough to put three rounds together," he said. "I'm happy with the two."
His first round was a 9-over-par 81, which means he had to scratch and claw to stay around after Wednesday. He came in at 154, and the cut allowed all those at 156 or better to tee it up Thursday.
"After I got the 81, I knew I would have to shoot a low number," Holden said. "They put the pins out there in tough spots and it kind of helped me out because I knew all the other scores could go up, but I knew mine couldn't. I knew I had to shoot 74, 75.
"My incentive was to make the cut. Eighty-one was not a good opening round, but you've got to fight back."
While the stroke average climbed nearly two strokes to 79.94 on Wednesday, Holden had an eight-stroke improvement.
On Thursday, after posting three bogeys on the back nine to start the day, he was able to post two birdies on the front side.
"Today, I got up and down 100 percent of the time," he said.
Holden finished two strokes behind Poplar Bluff's Trent Hillis, who tied for 16th place with a 9-over 225. Both are heading into their junior years of high school.
Three local boys — Jackson sophomore Tanner Werner, Central senior Jordan Sheets and Notre Dame senior Joe Wiggans — missed the cut. Emily Matthews, who graduated from Notre Dame and is headed to Missouri State, missed the cut in the girls division.
She played last year, as did Jack Connell Jr. of Cape Girardeau and T.J. Smith of Jackson, but none made the cut.
Hillis, who finished 43rd last year, closed with a 75 on Thursday after rounds of 76 and 74.
Holden has become acquainted with the Dalhousie course since his family joined two months ago.
"All the other guys had one practice and I got 10," he said. "Mainly, I would come out here and work on getting up and down from certain spots, and it paid off today.
"You learn how to play each hole so even if you don't hit your spot, you know how to get it back where you need to be to get a good number."
The Holdens' club membership came as a result of scrapping a trip to San Diego to watch the U.S. Open, which would have included driving through the West.
"It ended up my brother got some concert tickets, and we were going to have to fly out there and it was just going to cost a whole lot, so we decided to just watch it on the TV and join up here for about the same amount," Holden said. "I was pretty happy with that. It's just a great course and gets you prepared for any course you play."
Holden will play some fall events on the Future Collegians World Tour and continue preparations for the high school campaign, where he will try to make another trip to the state tournament.
"It's a great experience," Holden said of the AJGA tourney. "It teaches you life lessons, but you learn so much after each tournament about how to control your emotions and keep playing."