EFFINGHAM -- It could’ve been a tense moment between two teammates as Mattoon’s Nick Nguyen and Brock Moncel went out for a one-hole playoff to determine who the Class 2A individual regional champion would be at Effingham Country Club on Tuesday.
But for Nguyen and Moncel, it was more of a chance to have some fun since the two seniors are good buddies. Plus no matter what, the Green Wave were coming home as the 2A regional team champions.
Nguyen hit his putt for par on the playoff to claim the individual title, his second one at the Effingham Country Club in three years, and the two teammates hugged on the green after the outcome was determined.
“It was really fun because he is one of my best friends and it was kind of relaxing and kind of awkward at the same time, but it was really fun,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen and Moncel both shot a 74 and Mattoon won the regional title with a 315, ahead of Charleston’s 321 as it rained off and on at Effingham Country Club.
The playoff didn’t get off to a good start for Nguyen as his drive went to the right and into the rough right in front of a hill. He recovered with his second shot that hit the green and rolled just off. Nguyen’s chip landed on a good spot on the green and rolled about a foot and a half away from the green. Nguyen then sank the easy putt for par.
“I sailed (the drive) and that’s what I was struggling with the last two holes, but I grinded to try and get a good score out of it and I was able to make par off it,” Nguyen said. “(The second shot) was good, I was just surprised with how much it rolled. I was very pleased with that chip. As a team, we won and we are really proud of that. We have to continue that.”
Moncel’s drive split the fairway. His second shot was just short of the green and his chip was about 12 feet from the hole. His putt just missed, leaving the opening for Nguyen to win. For Moncel, the playoff hole was fun either way.
“It was fun and we are really good friends, so whoever won, we would be happy with each other,” Moncel said. “(The team regional title) was the main thing. That was our goal and we achieved that goal. I finished two-over at my last 18-hole event and I’ve been hitting the ball well on the range. It felt good from the first tee.”
After Nguyen and Moncel, Tanner Romine shot an 80 and Meade Johnson had an 87 to round out the scoring at 315. Gibson Moncel added a 93 and Colton Romine shot a 95.
Mattoon has been shooting around 320 this season and managed to shave a few strokes off its score to shoot a little lower at the regional meet.
“We’ve been pretty consistent all year long and I felt like we had the opportunity to go lower and what a great time for that,” Mattoon coach Bob Lockart said. “I’m really happy for our seniors, being led by Nick and Brock shooting a 74 says a lot. Our whole group, the older guys have always passed the torch. We call it stick-to-it-a-ness, showing up every day, keep working at it and I can’t say enough about the time and hard work that our kids put in. It all came together today.”
Lockart added that his team handled the weather conditions well as it rained off and on throughout the round.
For Lockart, it seemed appropriate that Moncel and Nguyen both shot a 74 to finish at the top at the regional.
“The other thing you appreciate about them is that they are out there for the team. Even though golf can be sometimes individualistic, the thing I notice about our group is the seniors dictate that they are in it for more than themselves,” Lockart said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. You never know what’s going to happen next week in Salem and we just keep plugging along and see how far we can go. I am just tickled to death for them.”
Romine’s 80 put him in a tie for fifth place at the regional and was a key score to help Mattoon separate itself from Charleston.
“If you talk to anybody that’s around our course, Tanner lives out there and he’s put in the work for an entire year,” Lockart said. “To see that pay off for him at an important time today, and the thing I appreciate about Tanner, he thinks there’s more in the tank. He shot 80 and is pleased with it, but there’s that drive that he wants to get down there and keep working. That’s what you got to have.”
Charleston was led by Ben Lanman, who finished in third place with a 75. Preston Smith was right behind him in fourth place with a 76. Blake Wolfe shot an 84 and Robert Rardin and Zach Will each shot an 86. Keegan Gowin had a 91.
The 321 team score for Charleston was a bit higher score than coach Randy Harpster is used to, but he was happy his team moved on. He knows his team can shoot lower at the sectional at Salem Country Club on Monday.
“We came here to move on and that’s what we did. We did a good job,” Harpster said. “One day where we didn’t get the four scores that we’ve had every match all year long. Going to the sectional, we know we will get those scores. I know they will come back from this."