Junior city title start of something special for McCulla

on Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 5, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jul. 6, 2018 2:10 am

QUINCY -- Alex McCulla's first eight holes Thursday were pretty much what he expected. He was 2-under and making a solid swing almost every time.

Then came the hiccups that could have derailed his round.

McCulla double bogeyed the par-3 ninth hole at Westview Golf Course after his tee shot plugged in the greenside bunker. He then bogeyed the par-4 10th despite having just a 50-yard approach shot.

"That was a stupid bogey," McCulla said.

It could have opened the door for someone other than the Quincy Notre Dame sophomore to win the Quincy Junior City Tournament. He closed that door in a hurry.

McCulla birdied five of his final eight holes, shooting a 4-under 67 to claim the championship by six strokes. QND's Jack Leffers was second with a 73, while QND's David Hutson and Gavin Frese shot 75s.

"I got it going there," he said.

It's the perfect time to bring good vibes to the course.

McCulla will tee it up this weekend in the Quincy Men's City Golf Championship, looking to become the first high school golfer to win the title since Luke Guthrie in 2006 before his junior year at Quincy High School. McCulla already won his age division during the Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships at Westview in June.

"I figure a couple more rounds of 67 puts me right there in contention," McCulla said.

The men's city tournament comes at the heart of a three-week span in which McCulla gets to play in some premier events.

He has been selected to represent the Prep Tour in the annual Challenge Cup, which pits a team of high school golfers from who play on the Prep Tour against a team from the Illinois Junior Golf Association in a two-day Ryder Cup-style event. This year's event is July 14-15 at Weaver Ridge Golf Course in Peoria.

McCulla will team with former QND teammate Reis Dreyer -- both were among the six captain's picks -- on the first day. Each team plays six holes of best ball, six holes of modified alternate shot and six holes of scramble. The second day features 16 singles matches.

"I think we have the better team," McCulla said.

The team seems pretty stacked. Tyler Bussert and Anthony Ruthey, both from Port Byron, finished first and second, respectively, last fall in the Class 1A state tournament. Parker Wisdom, of Bloomington Central Catholic, tied for sixth with Dreyer at the Class 2A state tournament.

And there's the added bonus of having a home-course advantage. The grandfather of one of the Prep Tour golfers -- Weston Walker -- lives on the course.

"So it's kind of going to be our home base," McCulla said.

Following the Challenge Cup, McCulla and Dreyer both will play in a U.S. Amateur qualifier, which could lead to a spot in the field at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.

"That would be a pretty cool," McCulla said.

If he responds to any hiccups the way he did Thursday, anything seems possible.