Central's Driskell heats up for district

Saturday, April 30, 2005

For the past two years, Central junior golfer Blake Driskell walked in the shadows of teammate and best friend Todd Obergoenner.

Driskell would not have had it any other way, as he picked the brain of one of the top high school golfers in the state in order to improve his game. Now, with Obergoenner off to play golf at the University of Kentucky, Driskell is left to lead a junior-dominated Tigers squad into the Class 4 District 1 tournament Monday at Quail Creek Golf Course in St. Louis.

"I had it so easy because the first two years I got to play with Todd," Driskell said. "Last year, he was the No. 1 player in the state according to the rankings."

While the transition to No. 1 on the team has not always been easy, Driskell has been consistent throughout the year for the Tigers. Carrying an average score of 37 for the season, Driskell again should have a strong chance of qualifying for the state tournament.

The district-winning team along with the next top 10 individuals qualify for the state tournament, which will take place May 15 and 16 at the Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in Bolivar, Mo.

"My goal is definitely all-state, but you never can go into a tournament without wanting to win, so my ultimate goal is to win state as an individual," Driskell said.

Central coach Dick Wadlington said if Driskell can continue to putt well, he should have a good chance at the state tournament.

"He has an outstanding game all the way around," Wadlington said.

Last year Driskell started out well at the state tournament, shooting a 2-over 74 in the opening round to put him among the top 15. But a second-round 83 placed the sophomore in a tie for 36th.

"I was really disappointed with the way I played last year," Driskell said.

Driskell's game has started to heat up this year. In Central's final dual before the district tournament with Notre Dame at the Cape Country Club on Tuesday, Driskell shot a 3-under 32.

"I don't remember anyone shooting a 32," Wadlington said. "Regardless of if anyone's done it before, it's a remarkable score."

Added Driskell: "I had shot a 30 once before, but in tournament play 32, yeah, that had to be my best."

While Driskell looks forward to trying to reach his third straight state tournament, his focus lies on helping his team qualify. Fellow junior Kirk Lohmann is averaging a 38, while junior Zach Kluesner has steadily improved as the year's gone on. Juniors Sam Bornstein and Robert Kaverman along with freshman Jack Connell have given strong performances.

With the Tigers putting up several team scores in the 140s late in the season, Driskell said the team is hoping to give defending district champion Poplar Bluff a run for its money.

"I know they know what we have scored, and they'll be a little more nervous than they were," Driskell said, "but we'll definitely have to step up and play the best we have played all year."

Whatever the Tigers do this year, Driskell will have another year to lead a team that should be a veteran squad squad.

"We weren't expected to do anything this year," Driskell said. "The fact we've done well this year, everyone's spirits are up for what we can do next year."

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