JOLIET – Paul Downey has been an influential figure in local golf for more than 35 years.
So it wasn’t too surprising that the hall of fame coach of the University of St. Francis men’s golf program spent his Sunday afternoon watching the Joliet Park District Men’s Championship at Wedgewood Golf Course.
And of particular interest to the veteran coach of nearly a quarter of a century were three players with ties to USF, who all were in contention for top honors.
Two of those individuals will compete again for USF in the fall, and the other was one of the first golfers who joined Downey when he took over the program after coaching for several years in the Joliet Township district.
The fact that Brandon Brodzinski emerged as the event’s champion from a four-man final foursome of all Minooka graduates was a bit of a surprise. After all, that group consisted of 2017 winner Curt Trizzino, 2016 champion Kyle Sheppard and six-time Joliet Park District Tournament champion Jeff Petrovic.
Brodzinski’s first tournament title of his summer schedule was aided by a four-under-par 67 in Saturday’s opening-round play at Inwood. He shot a 76 at Wedgewood to give him a two-day total of even-par 143, which was three strokes better than the runner-up, Petrovic. Sheppard, who will be competing for USF in the fall, finished with a 149 to take third.
“It’s nice when you’re able to recruit kids from your local area,” Downey said. “I’ve been fortunate to not only get some really good players but also great young men. They’ve set the standard of what type of players we’re looking for. And my former players like Jeff have been really instrumental in recommending youngsters to come here, and that’s priceless. The main focus at St. Francis is that they get a good education and enjoy themselves.”
After winning the Men’s Championship in 2016, Sheppard played for the Saints during the next school year, but did not compete last season. He once again will represent USF during the upcoming school year.
Like Petrovic, Sheppard also shot an even-par 71 in Saturday’s opening round. But he finished with a 78 on Sunday to finish with a 149 to assure himself of third place.
Tom Govern could have opted to compete in the senior division but instead decided to take part in the Men’s Championship. A staple of area golf for many years, he joined Trizzino with 150 totals as the pair rounded out the top-five finishers.
That also was three strokes better than his son, Parker, shot. The younger Govern competed at Plainfield South and will continue his career and education at Western Illinois University, where his father also played the sport.
Other top championship bracket finishers were Michael Klover (151), Parker Govern (153), Jake Scheidt (153), Rafe Lawson (154), Jake Pluth (155), Nate Tomich (155), Rob Weiss (155), Ryan Patera (155), Matthew Adler (156), Roberto Cordova (157), Jason White (157), Tim Boe (159), Brian Fisher (160) and Tony Giese (160).
Several returning champions in other divisions put themselves in a position to win titles again but only one of those, Tony Holguin Jr., was able to pull off the feat. He enjoyed the biggest margin of victory, capturing the Senor A Flight by 15 strokes.
In Senior Scratch, defending champ Jim Bolin finished four strokes behind Craig Martin (145), while in Senior B Flight, 2017 champ Jaime Campos placed second, five strokes in back of Whitey Hayes (134).
Last year’s Men’s A Flight winner, Ricardo Gonzalez, took second in Men’s B Flight after falling to winner John Hlava. And 2017 Men’s B Flight winner Sean Whitfield moved up to Flight A, where he finished in third place behind champion Jose Ramirez.