The 17th hole was the perfect example of the "trash can" metaphor that Dexter junior Chance Holden used when describing the extrication ability of Jackson junior Tanner Werner on Tuesday afternoon during the SEMO Conference tournament at Dalhousie Golf Club.
Holden watched as his front-running playing partner pushed his drive on the 17th tee box into the rough on the upslope of the 16th tee box. The nasty lie merely proved to be another opportunity for Werner to showcase why he was the top golfer in the conference for the second straight year and one to watch for at next week's Class 4 state meet.
Werner used a gap wedge to return to the fairway, where he hit the same club to within two feet of the pin to tap in for par.
"That's kind of how it was all day," Holden said. "He either made birdie or he made par from the trash can. He got up and down from everywhere today."
Poplar Bluff won the title by five shots with a 328.
"I just wanted to come out and play good golf and have fun," said Werner, who was the Class 4 District 1 medalist five days earlier with a 71 at Aberdeen Golf Course in Eureka, Mo. "But it feels good to win. I enjoyed it."
Jackson finished with a 333, while Notre Dame was third, another nine shots behind at 342. Central was seventh in the nine-team field with a 380.
"Obviously Tanner played very well today," Jackson coach Zach Walton said. "It's an accomplishment to win the conference two years in a row, and coming off the district championship. It's a big accomplishment for him.
Jackson's team score was rounded out by Brett Leimbach (86), state-qualifier Drew Hosp (87) and Braxton McDowell (89).
Poplar Bluff won its seventh straight SEMO Conference title despite its top two players scoring 80. Sophomore Carr Vernon was Werner's closest pursuer most of the round but played the final six holes in 9-over par.
"Sometimes ugly wins, and today this was an ugly win," Poplar Bluff coach Billy Pyland said. "We did some uncharacteristic stuff today that normally we wouldn't do, like playing a little smarter than we should and trying to get an extra birdie here or par there when there was no way to get it."
Carr was only one shot off the lead when he took a double-bogey on the par-3 13th, which Werner parred to extend his lead to three strokes. Werner opened more ground on the following hole with a birdie on the par-4 14th, which Carr bogeyed to fall five back. Carr became a nonfactor with a triple-bogey on the 15th hole, where he received a two-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball out of the hazard.
"It was pretty close up until 15," Werner said. "I finally got a little break there. He made a mistake there and made 8. I knew I had it and couldn't blow it. I just needed to make pars to finish."
Werner was the front-runner the entire day, thanks to three consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 3, 4 and 5. He hit a wedge to 4 feet on No. 3, knocked a wedge to within 1 foot on No. 4, then rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the par-3 fifth hole, where he hit a 7-iron off the tee.
"He was throwing darts on us all day," Holden said. "He kept knocking the flagstick down. And even when he didn't hit it close, he hit a good lag putt and a tap-in for par, or he'd make a long one on us. It was really a who-can-catch-Tanner day, and nobody could."
Werner carded a double-bogey on the par-3 No. 8 and made the turn at 1-under par.
Werner, who finished as the Class 4 state runner-up as a freshman, has fired his two lowest rounds of the season in his last two tournaments. He's peaking at the right time, with the state meet Monday and Tuesday at the Sedalia Country Club in Sedalia, Mo.
"Thursday [at district] and today I putted it better than I have all year," Werner said. "If I can get putts to go in, hopefully things will work out."
Junior Kurt Heischmidt, one of four Notre Dame state qualifiers, led the Bulldogs with an 85.
Central sophomore Corey Connell, also a state qualifier, paced the Tigers with a 90.
"That's a great score. It was playing rough," Connell said. "There was a lot of wind and it was still kind of wet and the greens were really hard. You have to play strong to shoot 71."
While Werner had the low score, Caruthersville senior Will Dorroh had the shot of the day. Dorroh scored his first career hole-in-one on No. 13. Dorroh used a 7-iron to ace the 165-yard hole.
Team -- Poplar Bluff 328, Jackson 333, Notre Dame 342. Dexter 343, Sikeston 357, New Madrid 367, Central 380, Doniphan 416
Jackson -- Tanner Werner 71, Brett Leimbach 86, Drew Hosp 87, Braxton McDowell 89
Notre Dame -- Kurt Heischmidt 85, Jake Seabaugh 86, Gunnar Knudtson 87, Tyler Arpin 89
Central -- Corey Connell 90, Trent Weaver 94, Corey Fowler 96, Will Anderson 100
Top 10 individuals
1. Tanner Werner, Jackson, 71
2. Chance Holden, Dexter, 75
3. Conner MacGillivary, Sikeston, 78
4 (tie). Carr Vernon, Poplar Bluff, 80
4 (tie). Trent Hillis, Poplar Bluff, 80
4 (tie). Evan Deere, Sikeston, 80
7 (tie). Caleb Moss, Caruthersville, 81
7 (tie). Lofton Hayes, New Madrid, 81
7 (tie). Jake Russell, Poplar Bluff, 81
7 (tie). Tayler Smith, Doniphan, 81