GENEVA – Jenna Kurosky entered the final day of the girls division at the IJGA-CDGA Junior Amateur protecting a one-stroke lead over one competitor and a four-stroke advantage over another.
But it turned out to be someone deeper down the leaderboard who wrestled the tournament championship away from the recent Burlington Central graduate.
Maria Harrast, a sophomore at Hinsdale Central, stunned the field with a 2-under par 69 on Thursday, slashing 11 strokes off her opening-round score to win the tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club with a two-day total of 149.
Kurosky, who shot matching 75s to land one stroke behind Harrast, couldn’t have seen the resolution coming.
“Very surprised,” Kurosky said. “Because I haven’t seen that in a tournament before, a girl shooting so low. She’s good.”
Kurosky said her rounds of 75 were one stroke better than her previous top career total. Meanwhile, Harrast lopped eight strokes off the 77 that marked her previous best score.
“I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself because then I could screw something up, so I just tried to forget about the score and keep playing,” said Harrast, who notched four birdies and had two bogeys on the day.
While the much larger boys field was cut down to 30 finalists Thursday setting up today’s final round, the girls awards were handed out as the 36 female competitors concluded play, with Kurosky barely missing what would have been her second tournament championship this month after winning the one-day Glendale Open on July 1.
“This is two good rounds because I haven’t been playing as well as I wanted to. Even when I won, it was a decent round,” Kurosky said of her 84 at Glendale Lakes Golf Course. “So hopefully this gets the ball rolling and I can start shooting like this more often.”
With just one stroke separating Harrast and Kurosky, a regret or two from Kurosky’s round were inevitable. The Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne recruit said hole No. 14 – a par-4 that she double bogeyed – was the only hole at which she’d like another crack.
“My driver was just very bad, and then I wasn’t in a good spot for putting, and I three-putted,” Kurosky said.
Kurosky’s younger sister, Burlington Central junior Josie Kurosky, also participated in the tournament, tying for 15th place. Like her sister, Josie Kurosky shot the same total both days, carding twin 84s.
St. Charles North sophomore Gianna Furrie placed eighth in the girls field, following up her Round 1 83 with a 79 on Thursday. Furrie’s round was highlighted by a long birdie putt on the par-5 fourth hole. Furrie said she enjoys taking aim at par-5s.
“I like being able to have three shots on comfortably but then able to still have a birdie opportunity,” Furrie said.
On the boys side, Geneva sophomore Graham Lillibridge was among three local golfers to make the cut. His two-day 148 – a 73 on Wednesday followed by a 75 – required back-nine resilience Thursday.
“I three-putted five of the nine greens on the front side, and that’s not like me at all,” Lillibridge said. “But I battled through it on the back and shot 2-under and played a lot better, so feeling pretty good going into tomorrow knowing I played a good back side.”
Lillibridge has played minimal golf this summer because of his hockey commitments; he is a defenseman with the Chicago Mission. Despite a strong freshman golf season at Geneva, Lillibridge is undecided if he’s going to stick with high school golf.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” Lillibridge said. “I haven’t made necessarily a decision yet. I still have to talk to not only the new boys coach (Eric Hactzel) but also I have a new hockey coach [with the Chicago Mission], so I need to see if they can be lenient at all, but it’ll be tough to do both considering you have tournaments that you need to leave school and you have nine-hole matches for conference right after school, and then I have to go to hockey, and I still have to do schoolwork at the same time.”
Also advancing were Sugar Grove resident Luke Hoss, a Marmion junior who fired a 1-under 70 on Thursday after shooting a 76 in the opening round. His 146 lands him in a tie for ninth place, 10 strokes back of leader Andrew Huber of Winnetka.
Joseph Sherman, of St. Charles, shot a 2-over 73 on Thursday as part of his two-day total of 151, which turned out to be the cut-line for advancement to the final round.
Kaneland product Brody Kuhar (75-78) narrowly missed advancing with his 153 while Ronnie Griggs, of St. Charles, followed his 76 with an 80 on Thursday to finish at 156.