By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Waiting can be a difficult task in any circumstance.
It was especially challenging for Mt. Vernon’s Trevor Flota and Matthew Williams earlier this week. Both shot a 73 at the Carbondale sectional but had to wait more than two hours to see if their scores stood up against some of the best high school golfers in southern Illinois.
Instead of staying idle and watching the individuals scores being posted in the clubhouse, the two engaged in a friendly putting contest to keep busy. Flota was in a similar situation last season. The Rams team didn’t advance to state, but he hoped his score would be good enough to move on as an individual. He eventually missed the state finals by one spot. Flota wanted another outcome this year.
“If I would have missed it by one stroke again, I would have been so mad,” Flota said. “So I was just nervous. About halfway through the scores, we kind of knew that it would advance because there weren’t many below 73.”
Both players were also hoping for the Rams to advance as a team. Mt. Vernon placed third overall at the sectional and were eliminated by just a few strokes.
“I was actually more nervous,” Williams said. “I was wanting the team to go more than I was wanting just the individuals to go. And I was more nervous about that than I was about myself.”
Eventually the two Rams seniors knew their scores were good enough, and they would qualify for state. Waterloo’s John Wirth was the medalist at the sectional with a 68. Flota and Williams tied for the second lowest score of the individual golfers advancing.
Today the focus shifts for Flota and Williams to Bloomington, the site of the 2A state finals. Both played the course during a summer tournament and admitted conquering it will be a tough task. Flota said the course has a longer yardage than the ones Mt. Vernon played this season. It also possesses a narrow back nine holes that punishes inaccurate shots.
“If you don’t hit it in the fairway, you could make double bogey real fast. I think I made three double bogeys or four in a row last year on the first day,” Flota said.
The greens present a challenge because they’re elevated and firmer so the ball rolls quickly.
“The elevated greens got me because with the wind there, the wind whips, and it can cross either side,” Williams said.
Both golfers are dedicated to their craft. Flota plays daily in the summer, and Williams plays up to 36 holes in the offseason depending on what aspect of his game he needs to work on. Flota started the sport after he had knee surgery the summer before his freshman year. The surgery sidelined him from sports he normally played like basketball and baseball.
“The doctor told me that I could play golf, and I told him I didn’t play golf,” Flota said.
Eventually he gave the sport a try and has been playing ever since.
Williams gravitated to the sport through his father who taught him as a youth. He played in junior high but became serious about success once he entered high school.
The duo are the first Rams golfers to represent the school at the boys state finals since Logan Murphy qualified in 2009. Murphy finished 14th over the two-day event.
The first round of the state finals starts this morning with the tournament concluding on Saturday. Hamilton County will have a pair of representatives in the 1A state finals. Both Marc Cox and Landon Vaughan will play for the Foxes. Cox returns to state for the second consecutive season.