Can’t catch Vance

2018 MHS graduate Nate Vance holds off four-time champ for first title

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Four-time champion Sam Zoske, left, congratulates Nate Vance on winning the 32nd annual Times-Republican City Golf Tournament on the 18th green at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course on Sunday. Vance shot 66-68—134 to hold off Zoske (70-68—138) and the rest of the field.

Nate Vance knew the challengers were there, waiting for him to leave the door ajar the way he did two years ago.

Now older, wiser and all-around a better golfer, Vance never let them in.

Vance turned in a 2-under-par round of 68 on Sunday at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course to close out his first Times-Republican City Golf Tournament championship, holding off four-time titlist Sam Zoske’s every advance over the last 18 holes.

Vance totaled 66-68–134 — just three strokes off the tournament record shared by Zoske and Jay Giannetto — and kept the chase pack back by at least three strokes for the entirety of Sunday’s final round.

“I had a lead going in and if I just went out and played smart and didn’t make stupid decisions going at pins that weren’t gettable, I thought it’d be a fine day,” Vance said, “and I felt like I did a fairly good job of that. It was pretty smooth.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Nate Vance and Amber Henson pose with their trophies after winning their respective divisions of the 32nd annual Times-Republican City Golf Tournament on Sunday at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course.

Smooth? No, this is golf. It never goes down without a fight. Vance didn’t tame the untamable, but he at the very least kept the beast at bay.

On Sunday, Zoske was leading the chase pack. His bogey on the par-5 second hole dropped him to five shots off Vance’s pace, but back-to-back birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 dropped the green flag on his pursuit of the only golfer left in front of him.

Marshalltown High School senior-to-be Cole Davis fell off the comeback trail with four bogeys on the front nine and couldn’t recover quickly enough to rejoin the race before it reached the finish line. The defending City Open champion closed with a 69-71–140 and settled for a comfortable third-place finish. Kirkwood Community College sophomore-to-be Tate Carlson, a 2018 MHS graduate like Vance, couldn’t convert his scoring chances either and came across with 38-38–76 to finish in a tie for fourth place at 146.

It was essentially a two-man race, but Vance never felt the pressure Zoske tried to apply.

Well, almost never.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown High School sophomore-to-be Amber Henson smiles as her birdie putt on the par-3 18th hole sinks to the bottom of the cup, giving her a round of 79 at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course on Sunday afternoon. Henson successfully defended her women’s division title, winning by a record margin of 22 strokes.

After Vance birdied the par-4 10th hole to regain a four-stroke advantage on Zoske, his tee shot on the 11th found its way under a tree lining the right side of the fairway with a murky pond separating him from the putting surface.

Fighting back flashbacks of the 2017 T-R City Golf Tournament, Vance recovered admirably by finding the left edge of the green with his approach shot from under the tree.

“I’m not going to lie, I got a little goosey on 11,” Vance said. “When I was 16 I would hit driver every single hole, go at every single pin, but now I’ve learned that’s just not how you play golf. Not even the best in the world go after every single pin, so I think my course management’s gotten a little bit better.”

Two summers ago, Vance’s tee shot went into the pond. He took his penalty stroke and played on, only to four-putt for a triple-bogey that relinquished the lead to eventual champion Bob Brooks.

“There were opportunities,” said Zoske, who finished with a 70-68–138 for his second runner-up finish in the City Open. “It actually felt a lot closer than it ended up. He made the putts when he needed to. I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities he gave, and he gave some opportunities that would have been huge shifts in everybody’s mindset.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“Today he was solid. You could see he wasn’t going to waver and he just kept making putts and that makes it hard, you start pushing a little bit. I felt like it was there. If I could get within one, anything could happen. It would have been fun to have a little bit more fireworks coming in.”

Both Vance and Zoske birdied the par-5 12th, with Vance nearly sinking his eagle putt, but Zoske closed back to within three with a birdie on 14. Vance dodged a deeper deficit by making a 12-foot putt for par as Zoske waited to make his 8-footer for birdie.

“I rolled in the putt, which saves everything,” Vance said, “and I still had a three-shot lead going into 15 and the momentum stayed with me. I think that was the biggest moment of the day because nothing really extravagant happened.”

Both golfers birdied 15, bogeyed 16 and parred 17 to leave it as a three-stroke margin coming into the home hole. Zoske’s tee shot was straight as an arrow but just short of the green, while Vance missed the green to the left but not far enough to cause concern. He calmly pitched to within 5 feet and sealed his first City Golf crown with yet another timely putt.

“I just remember being 14, I made it to the final pairing and watching Zoske play and hearing Jay talk about his record when he played — all those guys had won,” Vance said. “I grew up wanting to be like those guys and now that I’m actually able to win and can scrap around with anyone else, it makes it fun. I got there.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“Now that I’m there it feels pretty good to win one, especially after Cole snuck one out last year I had to come back and get one this year.”

Davis was at the head of the youth movement that dropped Zoske back to fifth place a year ago — only his second finish in 13 years outside the top four.

“You’ve got two collegiate golfers, in my opinion the best junior in the state, and they play so much competitive golf that you know it’s not going to be easy,” said Zoske. “Nobody’s giving it away. I knew that coming in, especially with Nate, but it was fun. He’s a good kid and it’s kind of fun to see these kids win.

“To come back and beat the old guys on your course is actually really hard, and I don’t think people quite understand that. It’s so hard to beat that guy because all they remember is them winning.”

Vance, a sophomore-to-be at Loyola University Chicago, was playing in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Senior All-Star Series last summer when the City Open was contested, but it’s not a tournament he intends to miss very often if he can help it.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“We’re all friends and you know everybody and nobody’s cheering against you and you’re all having a great tournament,” Vance said. “That’s what makes the City tournament fun.

“It was a fun day, it was just stress-free. I don’t think the lead ever got any smaller than three, which is always nice, so that made it fairly smooth. I never felt like I was on the verge of making a big number, I was never in a bad spot, and I think the putter saved me again today.”

Playing from the next-to-last foursome, JD Pollard improved two positions from Saturday’s opening round at Elmwood Country Club by shooting 73 for the second day in a row. He joined Carlson and Troy Underhill in a tie for fourth place with a 146 total. Underhill had four birdies in a row on the front nine to start 4-under before leveling out on the back nine, finishing 76-70 as the second-biggest mover of the day.

Fourth place marked the best finish in the City Open for both Pollard and Carlson and the second-best result for Underhill, who was third in 2014.

Chad Plaehn put Saturday’s 78 behind him and joined Underhill at even-par for the day, posting five birdies to offset five bogeys while climbing eight spots to share seventh place with Joel Ethington at 148.

Rob Christensen was next in with a 73-76–149, earning the Senior championship a year after winning the Super Senior division.

Grant Greazel, last year’s runner-up to Davis, placed 10th going into his sophomore campaign at Marshalltown High School. Jeff Miller was 11th, while Lee VanCleave and Tom Weis tied for 12th place, which was the best career finish for both golfers in the City Open.

Pat Ryan, Zach Underhill, Jeff Schneider and Riley Wirth closed out the championship flight, placing 14th through 17th, respectively.

First flight and climbing

Vance and Zoske carded the day’s low round of 68 to finish first and second overall, while Keygan Hansen had the second-best total of 69 to claim the top spot in the first flight. Hansen had four birdies and three bogeys, shooting 79-69 to post a 148 total that would have positioned him in the middle of the championship flight had he qualified on Saturday.

First flight runner-up Sam Weatherman, a four-time qualifier for the championship flight, settled for second place in the first flight with an 79-71–150 thanks to an eagle for the second-straight day.

Henson defends title

Marshalltown High School sophomore-to-be Amber Henson had to make mini-goals for herself to shoot for after capturing a 13-stroke lead after Saturday’s opening round of the T-R City Golf Tournament.

A round in the 70s was her main target, but now the bar has been raised.

Henson shot an 81 at Elmwood on Saturday and birdied the par-3 18th to close with a 79 on Sunday at the Legion, posting a 160 total that’s just four strokes off Amanda Vogt’s record-setting total of 156 established in 2006.

Henson, who last summer became the youngest women’s division champion at 14, successfully defended her title and did it by a new record margin. Terri Craft’s 2003 victory came by 11 strokes, but Henson doubled that total by pulling away from LeeAnn Ainley on Sunday afternoon at the Legion.

“Shooting in the 70s today was one of my goals, and to finish with a birdie on 18 was really good for me especially because I’ve never birdied that hole before,” said Henson. “It’s a hard finishing hole for me.

“I was trying to set goals for myself and do that more because I wanted to shoot in the 150s — to break 160 — but I didn’t quite do that.”

Henson shot a 7-over 43 on the front nine (par is 71 for women at both courses) but finished in with a 36, posting three birdies on the back nine to counteract two bogeys and a double bogey. She birdied the par-5 12th, the par-4 14th and the par-3 18th to become the sixth repeat champion in the women’s tournament, following the likes of Craft (2001-03), Whitney Schrader (2004-05), Vogt (2006-07), Emily Allison (2008-09) and Kim Tarbell (2010-11).

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say Amber Henson’s going to win about 10 of these in a row,” said Vance.

Henson’s 160 total was the lowest women’s round since Tarbell won with a 158 in 2011.

“It’s pretty special,” Henson said of winning back-to-back crowns, “and I plan to do it for a few more years. [The 36-hole scoring record] is going to be my goal for next year. If I play good, I can do that.”

Ainley finished as runner-up with her 94-88–182, while Paula Weaver placed third (202). Norah Wilson, another MHS sophomore-to-be, placed fourth (208) in the eight-player women’s division.

Kelly wins Super Senior

With the reigning Super Senior champion (Christensen) playing in the Open division, Pete Kelly stepped up and posted consecutive 72s to take the top honors with a 144 total. Kelly’s round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 12th as he overtook first-day leader Tony Giannetto.

Giannetto put a 77 on top of Saturday’s 70 as he was unable to card anything better than a par around the Legion track, settling for second with a 147.

This marked Kelly’s first division victory since claiming the Senior crown in 2007. He was the Open division runner-up in 2004 behind Matt Steddom.

LADIES DIVISION

1. Amber Henson, +18, 81, 79, 160

2. LeeAnn Ainley, +40, 94, 88, 182

3. Paula Weaver, +60, 107, 95, 202

4. Norah Wilson, +66, 102, 106, 208

5. Kristy Stewart, +77, 113, 106, 219

6. Patty Duff, +85, 115, 112, 227

7. Liz Stewart, +99, 125, 116, 241

8. Sydney Faltys, +113, 130, 125, 255

OPEN DIVISION

CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

1. Nate Vance, -6, 66, 68, 134

2. Sam Zoske, -2, 70, 68, 138

3. Cole Davis, E, 69, 71, 140

4. JD Pollard, +6, 73, 73, 146

4. Tate Carlson, +6, 70, 76, 146

4. Troy Underhill, +6, 76, 70, 146

7. Chad Plaehn, +8, 78, 70, 148

7. Joel Ethington, +8, 74, 74, 148

9. Rob Christensen, +9, 73, 76, 149

10. Grant Greazel, +11, 72, 79, 151

11. Jeff Miller, +13, 75, 78, 153

12. Lee Vancleave, +14, 77, 77, 154

12. Tom Weis, +14, 73, 81, 154

14. Pat Ryan, +15, 78, 77, 155

15. Zach Underhill, +17, 76, 81, 157

16. Jeff Schneider, +18, 78, 80, 158

17. Wirth Riley, +29, 77, 92, 169

FIRST FLIGHT

1. Keygan Hansen, +8, 79, 69, 148

2. Sam Weatherman, +10, 79, 71, 150

3. Taylor Wilson, +17, 82, 75, 157

4. Grant Smith, +18, 80, 78, 158

4. Mel Koch, +18, 83, 75, 158

4. Todd Weaver, +18, 81, 77, 158

7. Tom Apgar, +19, 81, 78, 159

8. Curt Hoff, +20, 82, 78, 160

9. Aidda Phomvisay, +21, 81, 80, 161

10. Darin Shipley, +22, 82, 80, 162

10. Travis Stewart, +22, 83, 79, 162

12. Jim Henink, +25, 82, 83, 165

13. Ross Turbiville, +26, 81, 85, 166

13. Tyler Stahlin, +26, 81, 85, 166

15. Luke Appel, +28, 82, 86, 168

16. John Haney, +31, 81, 90, 171

SECOND FLIGHT

1. Mark Wolken, +19, 85, 74, 159

2. Don Eicher, +23, 85, 78, 163

3. Steve Ruddick, +24, 84, 80, 164

4. Jeff Tice, +25, 85, 80, 165

5. Paul Ainley, +26, 86, 80, 166

6. B. Herschberger, +28, 85, 83, 168

7. Brian Kadner, +29, 85, 84, 169

7. Warren Wolken, +29, 87, 82, 169

9. Jim Carlson, +31, 84, 87, 171

10. Brayden Fahrni, +33, 87, 86, 173

10. Todd Bolar, +33, 87, 86, 173

12. Mark Finch, +34, 87, 87, 174

13. O. Chaloupeck, +35, 87, 88, 175

14. Joe Hannam, +41, 87, 94, 181

Mason Reid,, 85, NS, DNF

THIRD FLIGHT

1. Then Baccam, +24, 89, 75, 164

2. Colin Schmit, +25, 88, 77, 165

3. Rob Sandvick, +28, 88, 80, 168

4. Dao Sorlaesith, +30, 88, 82, 170

5. Brad Kadner, +31, 91, 80, 171

5. Darren Bare, +31, 90, 81, 171

5. Dave Benz, +31, 88, 83, 171

5. Joel Chandler, +31, 91, 80, 171

5. Shawn Morris, +31, 91, 80, 171

5. Trent Upah, +31, 88, 83, 171

11. Aaron Fleming, +34, 91, 83, 174

12. Donny Weeks, +38, 88, 90, 178

13. Chuck Misek, +39, 91, 88, 179

13. M. Hannam, +39, 90, 89, 179

15. Gary Bolar, +42, 89, 93, 182

16. Brian Wilkie, +50, 91, 99, 190

17. John Casey, +52, 88, 104, 192

FOURTH FLIGHT

1. Matt Yates, +32, 94, 78, 172

2. Kent Carson, +34, 94, 80, 174

3. Zach Stahlin, +37, 94, 83, 177

4. Don Rhodes, +38, 97, 81, 178

4. Jon Vance, +38, 93, 85, 178

6. Denny Gould, +40, 94, 86, 180

7. Michael Fosdick, +41, 92, 89, 181

8. Don Merschbrock, +42, 96, 86, 182

9. Ron Davis, +43, 93, 90, 183

10. Thomas Fleming, +46, 97, 89, 186

11. Rob Weatherly, +51, 97, 94, 191

11. Steve Knutson, +51, 94, 97, 191

13. Nick Stanton, +52, 95, 97, 192

14. Geoff Hubbard, +56, 97, 99, 196

15. Robert Manceri, +57, 96, 101, 197

FIFTH FLIGHT

1. Steve Dunham, +46, 99, 87, 186

2. Bret Ferneau, +48, 99, 89, 188

3. Jeff Welsch, +49, 100, 89, 189

3. Jerry Summers, +49, 99, 90, 189

3. Thad Lents, +49, 98, 91, 189

6. Justin Sorensen, +50, 99, 91, 190

7. Kenny Weeks, +51, 102, 89, 191

8. Jon Bru, +52, 101, 91, 192

9. Kim Ruddick, +54, 99, 95, 194

10. Alec Gansemer, +57, 101, 96, 197

11. Jason Kelling, +64, 114, 90, 204

12. Will Shipley, +68, 106, 102, 208

13. Cael Sandvick, +77, 116, 101, 217

14. Trent Potter, +87, 117, 110, 227

SUPER SENIOR DIVISION

1. Pete Kelly, +3, 72, 72, 144

2. Tony Giannetto, +6, 70, 77, 147

3. Mike Anderson, +15, 80, 76, 156

4. Arch Allison, +18, 83, 76, 159

5. Bruce Weir, +22, 80, 83, 163

6. Jack Smith, +28, 85, 84, 169

6. Lyle Riddout, +28, 89, 80, 169

8. Allan Knight, +46, 95, 92, 187

9. Gerald Hamilton, +54, 101, 94, 195

Mike Ward,, 85, –, DNF

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE