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Local golfers look to finish out St. Charles Junior Golf Tournament on high note

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 5:35 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:48 a.m. CDT

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ST. CHARLES – Several golfers in the boys 16-17 division of the St. Charles Junior Tournament planned to dine at the nearby International House of Pancakes after their nine-hole first round Wednesday morning.

St. Charles East junior Colin Johnson acted on the arrangement later than most.

Before you could devour a short stack, Johnson had retreated from the Pottawatomie Golf Course pro shop patio where he'd turned in his scorecard to the practice green.

"Probably five minutes after I finished," Johnson said. "I was just thinking about the putts I missed and the round and I didn't do so well."

His standards notwithstanding, the leaderboard shows Johnson with a three-stroke lead after a 4-over par 39.

Still, Johnson would like to think the gap on Ben Connor (42) and a quintet of golfers who shot 43 could be wider entering today's final round. If only he hadn't missed that five-footer for par on No. 8 or another knee-bender to bogey No. 9.

"The shots were fine, just not the putting," Johnson said. "I mean, it's average, but it could be a lot better. That's the one thing I need to work on the most."

Girls 15-17 leader Jessica Grill, a St. Charles North senior, also was introspective after carding a 43 to pace a four-member group that includes North teammates Morgan Snook (53), Carrie Cork (56) and East's McKenzie Slattery (65).

Grill dubbed the morning "an overall mediocre day" despite not thinking she "had any particularly bad shots."

She'll try to put everything together once more today, bracing for a final appearance in a tournament she and fraternal twin brother J.T. – who shot 43 in boys 16-17 play – have frequented since they were 12.

"It's really bittersweet because it is my last time playing, and just seeing how much I've improved since I started is just hard to think about that I'll be leaving it," Jessica Grill said. "Because I have improved by a lot, I think."

Johnson harped on a similar refrain in his tournament debut. A St. Charles resident since his family moved from Minnesota during his infancy, Johnson has played Pottawatomie since he was a seventh grader.

He's seen much more of the course in the past few months after signing up for a park district pass for the first time this season. Pottawatomie assistant pro Bill Ogiego said Johnson "has probably played more rounds than anybody this year down here."

Adults included.

Johnson still said he had not known of the tournament until this year. Friends urged him to compete, knowing it would boost his bid to make East's varsity for the first time after missing out as a freshman and sophomore.

"We all go to the same high school or North, so it's not like rivals or anything," said Ronnie Griggs, an East junior who shot 43. "We just like to have fun, especially in a tournament like this. It's more about fun. Having a good time."

Ultimately, Johnson would agree. As he packed up his bag for the day, one friend reminded him to be cool and take it easy.

That wasn't a reference to the sweltering heat – in which Ogiego soldiered on in his familiar sweater vest – but to Johnson's mental game.

"Yeah, I'll be fine tomorrow," Johnson said.

He'd better. Breakfast buddies or not, the rest of the field is gunning for him.

"I think it's going to be really competitive, yeah," said Griggs, whose aggregate 78 in the boys 14-15 division was tops among all finishers in 2012. "I think as of right now, it's anyone's tournament to win."

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