His four-year run at Marmion didn’t end the way he wanted, and his college career at Northern Illinois University got off to an unexpected start, but Bryce Emory is pleased with where his golf game is heading.
He should be after a solid second half of his sophomore season and an even stronger summer.
One of two freshman individual qualifiers for the 2005 Class AA state meet, and the Kane County Chronicle Player of the Year as a sophomore, Emory ended his high school career on a somewhat sour note, shooting a 12-over-par 84 at the 2008 Class 3A Naperville Central Regional as the Cadets’ season concluded with a disappointing sixth-place finish.
“I wanted to end my career where it started in Bloomington, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Emory, a three-time Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the Year. “But a week after state I won a [Illinois Junior Golf Association] event. I looked at that as kind of my state title. That helped to ease the pain of that.”
Excited about starting his college career under the guidance of coach John Cleary, Emory quickly learned the reality of Division I athletics when Cleary resigned before to the 2009 season to become an assistant in the Texas Tech women’s golf program.
“I was a little disappointed that Cleary left, but at the same time I understood he’s got to do what’s best for him,” Emory said. “I was a little leery with coach (Tom) Porten coming in since he didn’t recruit me, but he’s helped me improve each year.”
Porten has been working with the 6-foot-5 junior on improving his accuracy off the tee. Emory now reaches for the 3-wood or hybrid instead of the driver.
“He doesn’t drive it straight enough now to play at the professional level, but he’s really come a long way technically since he arrived at Northern,” Porten said.
Emory made significant strides in the spring when he started in all seven of the Huskies’ events. He set a career best by finishing fifth (7-over-par 217) at the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational in April in Muncie, Ind., then earned a share of 30th at the Mid-American Conference meet at TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio, with a 23-over 311. It was Emory’s first MAC championship start.
“The conference meet is the one tournament you want to play in each year,” said Emory, whose 75.7 scoring average last season was third best on the team. “I struggled a little bit, but it was a tough course and it was the first time for me at conference. I gained a lot of experience, and I’ve played pretty well since that tournament.”
Emory was on the course nearly every day this summer, and said his scoring average has gone way down. At the 81st Illinois State Amateur Championship at the Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn this month, he finished tied for eighth after failing to make the cut the previous two years.
“What’s pleased me about his summer is that everything he’s competed in he has had success,” Porten said. “He’s still not a finished product, but he’s starting to be more consistent in all phases.
“Bryce has begun to move ahead of his class.”
That’s exactly the direction Emory wants to be heading.
• Matt Beardmore writes a weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle about area athletes competing in college. If you have a column idea, contact him at email@example.com.