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Bruce one back from state cut

June 11, 2008
Going into the boys' regional golf tournament Friday in Seymour, golfers were unsure what to expect. The Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the event, five inches of rain soaked the already tough Shadowood Golf Course.

When the teams showed up Friday, they were greeted with soft fairways, plenty of wind and a beaming sun.

North Harrison's Matt Bruce tees off on No. 14 at Shadowood Golf Course in Seymour at the boys' golf regional Friday. The junior was one stroke from making the state golf meet. (Brian Smith)
North Harrison, making its first appearance at regional in school history, had trouble with the conditions most of the day. Winds didn't let up, constantly gusting at about 30 miles per hour, and the bright sun pounded 90-degree heat on every golfer, causing a humid uneasiness.

"I didn't think this course was going to play this tough today, but the wind came into play much more than I expected," said North Harrison junior Matt Bruce.

Bruce put in the best round among the Cougar golfers, firing a six-over par 78. He finished one stroke back of making the state tournament as an individual.

"I can look back on it and say I left a lot of shots out there, but the reality is, this course was not playing easy," Bruce added. "I birdied the last hole this year when last year I bogeyed it, so I finished much better."

Bruce, along with fellow junior Dylan Spencer, played in the regional last year after advancing as individuals from sectionals.

Bruce played the front and back nine with 39s. His lone birdies came on the ninth and 18th holes.

Spencer had a solid round on the front nine, bouncing back from a double bogey on the second hole to card a three-over par 39 on the front side. The backside however, was more up and down. Despite two birdies, six holes played over par caused Spencer to finish the back nine with a 41 and an 80 overall.

"They were in it the last four or five holes," North Harrison coach Kelly Cooper said of his top two golfers. "They had a couple bogeys and they started to feel they had to make it up and were just a little too aggressive, I think."

As a team, North Harrison finished 11th among 12 teams with a score of 341.

Daniel Matthews put together a respectable 42 on the front nine, but struggled on the backside with a 49, concluding with a 91.

Chris Worrall and Nick Morris also found their rounds at Shadowood challenging, carding 92 and 102, respectively.

"I am sure they were nervous with the wind conditions, but everyone had to play in these same conditions," Cooper said. "They are all coming back next year and I think they will all learn from it. That is No. 1; they will have a chance to build on it next year. Today was just one of those days."

North Harrison was grouped with Bloomington South, which went on to win the regional with a 303. Madison (309) and Providence (311) also advanced to the state meet as individuals. Two-time defending state champion Floyd Central failed to reach the state meet, shooting a 322 for sixth place.

Providence's Trey Pfund fired the best round of the day, a one-under par 71. Columbus North's Tyler Duncan followed with a 72.

Cooper said the Cougars closed the season out strong and, with the team bringing all its varsity golfers back next season, the trip to regionals is something to build on.

"It's been a great year for the team, winning conference and getting out of sectional for the first time," he said. "We came up here and got a little more experience. They all have this summer, fall and winter to get better and better. They now see what it takes to get to the state tournament next year."

Bruce said to finally make it to regionals as a team was something to take pride in.

"That was big. It was something that has been that monkey on North Harrison's back for years. My freshman year we expected to get out. We all shot in the 70s and didn't get out. To finally do that, even though nobody made it to state, it puts an exclamation point on the year as a team that we all made it to regionals. We're not loosing anybody, so hopefully everyone works on their game and we come back and give state a run next year."

Team scores (top 3 advance to state) – Bloomington South 303, Madison 309, Providence 311, Columbus North 314, Bedford North Lawrence 319, Floyd Central 322, Jennings County 325, Bloomington North 326, Greensburg 332, Shawe Memorial 338, North Harrison 341, Shelbyville 347.

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