Strassle’s confidence makes a difference

 

Kyle Strassle of Milford watches his drive off the 1st tee in the final round of the DIAA golf tournament Wednesday at Maple Dale Country Club. (Special to Delaware State) News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Mentally, Kyle Strassle used to hang on to bad shots for too long.

And, too often, that meant another bad shot would follow the first for the Milford High golfer.

“My young mind told me, that was a bad shot,” joked Strassle. “(Now) if I hit a bad shot, I know I have the skill to make the next one.”

Strassle said that newfound confidence is probably the biggest reason for how well he’s been playing lately.

A week after winning the Henlopen Conference individual title, the Buccaneer junior finished fourth in the DIAA golf state championships, which concluded on Wednesday afternoon at Maple Dale Country Club.

Strassle was the top downstate finisher in the 36-hole tournament. With a four-over par total of 148, he finished just four shots behind winner Esther Park of Wilmington Charter.

Park, a sophomore, took her first individual state championship by first firing a 67 — the best score of the tourney — and then winning a two-hole playoff with last year’s champion, freshman Phoebe Brinker of Archmere.

It was the second straight year that a female player not only won the championship but that female golfers took many of the top spots in the final standings. Four female players placed in the top eight.

As for the team crown, Tower Hill came from five shots back after the first round to capture its second-straight state title with a score of 540. Archmere (543), Appoquinimink (544) and first-round leader Caesar Rodney (551) took the top four spots.

Akira Parvy of Caesar Rodney watches his tee shot Wednesday at Maple Dale Country Club. (Special to Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Milford coach Todd French said Strassle surpassed all his goals for the season with his strong finish.

“He peaked at the right time,” said French. “He’s played his best golf over the last two weeks. And every round has gotten better.

“His potential was always there. I haven’t seen a kid work at something specific like he does with golf.”

Strassle’s 73 on Wednesday was two shots better than the 75 he carded in the first round. He played the final eight holes at one-under par.

The warm, sunny conditions on Wednesday made a big difference over Tuesday’s cold, wet weather said Strassle. He finished 29th in the tournament a year ago.

“There was no wind — I particularly hate playing in the wind,” said Strassle. “I held myself together. I hit a few bad shots but I didn’t let myself get down on myself.”

CR’s Akira Pavey was the only other Henlopen player to finish in the top 10. The Riders’ sophomore took seventh after shooting a 77 on Wednesday to card a 152 for the tourney.

As a team, CR had finished in first or second-place five times in the last seven seasons. But the Riders couldn’t be too disappointed considering some of the low numbers put up by the teams in front of them.

Archmere’s Phoebe Brinker hits her second shot from the 4th fairway Wednesday. (Special to Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“I don’t think we lost it, I think that other people won it,” said coach John Newman. “I was proud of what we did today. There were some great scores.”

“We wish the team would have done better but we tried our hardest,” said senior Devin Sanders. “We’re happy with what we did. … We were hoping for a state title but top five is always good.”

Only a few years ago, the female players in the state tournament were just trying to work their way toward the top of the leaderboard. Now it seems like the boys have to catch up with the girls.

Charter’s Park won the title with an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 17, the second playoff hole.

“The girls I know here, we’ve played since we were little,” she said. “I’m actually really proud that they grew and improved a lot.”

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