JOHNSTOWN – Olivia Jones called it “probably the shortest round I’ve had, but also the longest I’ve played.”

It took just over three and a half hours for Granville sophomores and juniors Gracie James (Watkins Memorial) and Olivia Dickson (Utica) to cover 18 holes Monday at Clover Valley Golf Club, during the final round of the Licking County Junior Golf Association Summer Series.

But after shooting 70s on the course in a previous tournament, Jones struggled to hit a 93 and hopes to find the consistency needed to succeed in the fast approaching high school season. Jones had finished first in every Southern Ohio PGA event she had attended and played in the elite junior championship at Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

James, who placed 11th in the sophomore year of the Division I state tournament, had no such issues with her consistency. She shot an even par 72 (36-36) on Monday and just missed a birdie putt on the No. 18.

“My putter was pretty good. Make or break me, every time,” James said. “I had a solid long game. I worked hard this winter, tightening up the misses with all my clubs. I worked really hard on my holds and my putt. A lot of the biggest tournaments I play in, are longer distances, and the distances are generally shorter for school golf.”

Gracie James putts while competing in the Licking County Junior Golf Association's final event of the season on Monday, July 25, 2022 at Clover Valley Golf Club in Johnstown.

“She made a few putts today that were probably 40 feet,” Jones said. “We are very good friends and we got to play together at Firestone.”

Dickson and Jones both carded 79 two weeks ago at an LCJGA event at the Links in Echo Springs, but Dickson came in at 87 on Monday. She wasn’t too worried and still clinched the LCJGA points title for girls 15-18. Jones finished second.

“My approach shots were short today, but most of the time I’m solid,” Dickson said. “In that age group last year I didn’t have a chance, but I thought I would this year and I’ve played in all the tournaments. These are the courses I’m going to play during the season, and that’s competitive golf.”

Caylee Lattimer tees off while competing in the Licking County Junior Golf Association's final event of the season on Monday, July 25, 2022 at Clover Valley Golf Club in Johnstown.

Dickson said playing with someone of James’ caliber would only make her better.

“I watch her, I learn how she approaches shooting and it improves my game,” she said. “I’m more focused and more intentional with my shots. I want to be in my mid-70s by the end of the season, and the ultimate goal is to play college.”

The LCJGA Boys 15-18 title ended in a one-on-one battle between Heath senior David Link and Fredericktown’s Will Streby, and Link wouldn’t have liked it. either otherwise. He carded an 80 (40-40), ahead of Streby who posted an 83 (40-43).

“We went back and forth all day,” Link said. “I’ve played with him a bunch of times, and it’s usually pretty tight. Playing in tournaments like this helps deal with the pressure. I like playing with the best guys, and I’ve played a lot with Clay (Bruning).”

Clay Bruning approaches the green with an iron while competing in the Licking County Junior Golf Association's final event of the season on Monday, July 25, 2022 at Clover Valley Golf Club in Johnstown.

Bruning, the Johnstown senior and two-time defending LCJGA points champion, has played mostly in COGA (Central Ohio Golf Academy) events this summer, generally placing in the top 10, including third at Apple Valley. He was in Link’s group at Clover Valley on Monday and shot 77 (36-41) despite recording triples and double bogeys. Canal Winchester’s Nolan Frey was the medalist with a 76 (38-38).

“I hit the ball pretty well today, and I need to play better more often,” Link said. “I need to be more confident about the main things. I want to be in my mid-70s all the time.”

Former Utica Ben Rodichok recorded an 81 (41-40) on Monday, and says there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“Nothing good with my driver and my long game today, but my short game was pretty good,” he said. “I need to work on my long irons and my driver, and I’m starting to get there. My confidence needs to improve, and these tournaments help me. There’s the friendships and the opportunity to work on different shots on different paths. Just the experience.”

Josh Hackett approaches the green with an iron while competing in the Licking County Junior Golf Association's final event of the season on Monday, July 25, 2022 at Clover Valley Golf Club in Johnstown.

Watkins Memorial senior Skyler Graham had a strong summer but slipped to 89 (45-44) on Monday. He knows there are better days ahead.

“I was satisfied with 99% of the rounds I played, and today was just a bad day. You just have to get rid of it,” Graham said. “I have to get the ball off the tee and bring confidence, hit the shots I want to commit to. I’ve never been good off the tee, and I just need to get up and down better. Hit more greens in the rules. I love this competition. It’s been like this since I was a freshman.”

Granville sophomore Samuel Pfau, playing from the middle (white) tees, shot a 1-under 71 to win the championship 13-15 on a course in Clover Valley that can be tricky.

“This course is tougher than people think,” said Johnstown assistant coach Shawn Neil, who has been tournament director since 2014 with the help of Johnnies head coach Chris Carlisle. “The pin placements can be tricky, and there’s heather you can get into on many holes, if you miss the fairways. There are also hillside lies that people don’t take notice of. “

Golfers should once again be well prepared for the 2022 season, playing a variety of courses this summer, including Moundbuilders Country Club, St. Albans, Willow Run, Trout Club and Links at Echo Springs.

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