OUR STORY: The Perfect Season, Now A Perfect Reality
Lady Tigers Win First-Ever State Golf Title, Eden Lohrbach The Individual Champion Again
Perfection on a golf course, it’s just not possible, not unless someone out there has the ability to post 18 consecutive aces on a scorecard. You’d have better odds at winning the lottery in six consecutive weeks while dealing with the fact that you’ve also been struck by lightning three times during that span.
So, yeah, forget about perfection.
On second thought …
There is such a thing as a perfect golf season. The Gilbert girls’ team just achieved it. Junior phenom Eden Lohrbach did too. And it was a beautiful thing to watch.
Exorcising the demons of 2022 — more on that later — with two solid days of golf, our girls’ squad hoisted the program’s first-ever state championship trophy late Friday afternoon at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls.
Honestly, it wasn’t all that close.
Led by junior Eden Lohrbach’s second individual state title in three years, the Tigers led by seven strokes after Thursday’s opening 18 holes and then extended the final margin to 19 strokes by the time the Class 3A 36-hole tournament wrapped up on Friday. Rounds of 332-321 (653 total) on the 5,379-yard, par-72 layout easily dispatched runner-up Dubuque Wahlert (341-331-672) and third-place finisher Clear Lake (339-337-676).
At no time on Friday were our girls in danger of relinquishing the lead. The margin reached double digits early on when Josie Dukes and Macy Underwood started off strong, and it continued to steadily grow throughout the day as all of the golfers toured the course.
As for perfection, well, how about these numbers …
•There were some duplicates, but 86 teams attempted to beat the Tigers this spring, whether it was a dual, a triangular, a quad, or a tournament. All 86 failed.
•If you want to count the two-day state tournament as two separate events, then the number of foes reached 104. Again,104 failed.
•As for Eden Lohrbach, the math is even more ridiculous. She faced challenges from somewhere between 500 and 600 golfers in April and May. And she beat them all.
This was all expected, of course, considering Eden’s talent and the remainder of the team comprised of either talented freshmen with a familiar last name or cagey veterans. But I’d argue that makes the feat even more impressive. Each time our girls stuck a tee in the ground, there was a bull’s-eye on their backs. And it didn’t matter one bit.
There was a bit of redemption too as the girls subtly celebrated their achievement near the clubhouse on Friday. The scars of the Devastation Of 2022 are still visible, but hopefully now they’ll fade. In case you don’t remember (sorry girls), the Tigers took a 12-stroke lead into Day 2 of the 2022 state tournament at River Valley Golf Course in Adel, only to see their nerves and an unfortunate pin placement that made national headlines seize that title from their clutches and hand it to Clear Lake by two strokes.
The girls spent the 2023 season using that disappointment as fuel. And on the eve of last week’s state tournament, head coach Grant Walker and his girls burned those memories — quite literally — when they set the 2022 scorecard ablaze. The card may have turned to ashes, but the fire burning inside of the players only grew hotter as the week progressed.
Eden’s two-day total of 143 included a 2-under 70 in Round 1 and a 1-over 73 in Round 2 to give her a five-stroke win over runner-up Rebecca DeLong (73-75-148) of Clear Lake. Also the 2021 state champion and 2022 state runner-up, Eden plays a game most of us are unfamiliar with. Her high, naturally fading drive finds the fairway on virtually every hole. Her irons are crisp, and her wedge game is a notch or 12 above pretty much every golfer in the state.
And here’s a little bit of knowledge for you — had her putter been hot or even lukewarm on Friday, that 73 would have been more like 65 or 66. Over her last 15 holes, she burned the edges on a plethora of birdie putts, but her ball striking was so superior that it didn’t matter.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Eden’s game is her demeanor. Whether she penciled in a birdie or a bogey, she stayed laser-focused. She doesn’t throw clubs. She doesn’t grumble. And she’s always gracious to her playing partners. In other words, she’s an absolute joy to watch and a tremendous role model for her teammates and future golfers who hope to one day be just like Eden.
The University of Nebraska is getting a good one. A really good one. But not before she returns to Gilbert next year to attempt to win a third state crown. And is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe it will happen?
The other girls played their parts as well.
On Day 1, Ella Lohrbach fired an 83, and twin sister Ava Lohrbach added an 89 along with Macy’s 90.
On Day 2, Ava went pin-seeking with an 81, and Macy matched her to shave nine strokes off her opening-round score. Josie took five shots off her Day 1 total with an 86.
Don’t sleep on what Sydney Lynch did either. Her schedule late in the week consisted of the opening round of state Thursday morning, followed by a quick drive back to Gilbert to help the Tigers’ soccer team reached the 1A state tournament. Sydney and her dad, Rob, turned right back around and made it to Cedar Falls late Thursday night so Sydney would be ready for Friday’s second round.
I’m exhausted just typing that.
So, what does the 2024 landscape look like for our girls’ team? With only Lynch exiting due to graduation, and with Haley Loonan in the fold, there’s no doubt the Tigers will be among the favorites to win the state championship again. That’s probably being too modest. Truth serum time — they’ll be the favorites. That’s a lock.
I can’t wait to follow it all again.