Milford’s Strassle wins Henlopen golf title in playoff

DOVER — Four golfers, including a pair from the always formidable Caesar Rodney High School golf team, staked their claim to the individual crown at the Henlopen Conference Golf Championship Tournament on Friday.

However, after a winner-take-all playoff hole, it was Milford junior Kyle Strassle who stood on top of the pack after he birdied the par-four first hole at Maple Dale Country Club while the other three contenders each encountered some difficulty.

Difficulty was the key word on the par-72 course on a wind-whipped day following a night of soaking rain.

Strassle, CR teammates Vincent Alois and Devin Sanders, and Polytech’s Connor Young both finished an 18-hole round with five-over par scores of 77.

But it was Strassle who managed to stand out on the playoff hole. He finished the hole in three strokes, including a clutch second shot that left him with a title-clinching two-foot putt for birdie.

CR’s Akia Pavey watches his ball sail down the 5th fairway at Maple Dale Country Club Friday. In the background are Delmar’s Helen Wilson and Brady Lingo of Sussex Tech. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“I got a little nervous when the ball couldn’t be found after I hit my tee shot, but then the second shot was a great shot out of the hazard for an easy-birdie putt and I was shaking a little bit there, but I made it,” Strassle said.

Senior Kyle Satterfield watches his drive from the 1st tee Friday.

His second shot proved to be the difference as he managed to hit the ball from the hazard about 60 to 70 yards to a couple of feet from the cup.

“The front nine I was six-over and the back nine I was one-under and that was the second best score I’ve had,” said Strassle. “The front wasn’t good but the back was good and I brought it all together at the end.”

While they were unable to pull out the individual victory, Alois and Sanders did manage to lead Caesar Rodney to its eighth-consecutive team championship in the Henlopen tournament.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Alois, a junior. “I had the adrenaline flowing, but it was fun. There’s a lot of pressure when you have everyone watching you and following you.

Cape Henlopen senior Matt Zehner watches his shot from the 1st tee.

“The water was a little bit of a challenge. I had a couple of balls find some puddles, but the course plays hard normally.”

Akira Pavey carded an 82, Kyle Satterfield and Matt Miller turned in rounds of 83 and Isabella Moyers shot a 92 for the Riders, who finished with a team score of 319, a distant 24 strokes ahead of runner-up Polytech’s runner-up total of 343.

Sanders, a senior, said playing at Maple Dale served as a nice tune-up for the DIAA State Golf Tournament, which will take place at the same course next Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We battled and I’m happy with the score,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do better in the states next week. It was good practice for us.

Helen Wilson of Delmar putts on the 5th green.

“I’m happy with this team. We just have a close bond and we practice together and go out to eat and spend time with each other and go to each other’s houses. I’m going to miss it (when I graduate).”

Polytech’s Jackson Cecchett finished in fifth place with an 81.

“We had a good day as a team in some pretty tough conditions,” said Polytech coach Steve Yiengst. “I think we actually finished closer to Caesar Rodney than we did when we played them nine holes earlier in the year.”

A total of 35 of the 80 golfers who competed in the tournament finished with a score of 100 or worse.

“The wind was tough but I think the wetness of the course was even more difficult,” Strassle said. “There were just clunky shots all over the place and it was a little harder to control.

“I’m really happy that I was able to bring it all together there at the end.”

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