Freshman provides driving force on golf team

Derek Blunt, Sports Editor

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Freshman Kevin O’Regan follows through on a drive on the first tee box in a 9-hole match against Highland Park on Sept. 14. O’Regan shot a 40, contributing to the team’s score of 256 compiled of the top six scores. Photo by Richard Chu

Standing on the tee box of the fourth hole at Chick Evans Golf Course, freshman Kevin O’Regan gazed ahead of him. The pin stood 125 yards away, an easy pitching wedge according to O’Regan. Just prior to hitting his shot, O’Regan realized the potential for an ace, every golfers dream, and turned to his teammate, senior Jake Kieffer, and said, “It’s like I’m being asked to get a hole-in-one,” before calmly sending the ball to its eventual landing spot three inches from the hole.

O’Regan was the only freshman to make the varsity golf team this year. His average 18-hole score is a 75, and his average 9-hole score is a 37, as of Sept. 26.

According to O’Regan, he was not very nervous when starting the season as a freshman on varsity because he had been playing with his current teammates during the summer, so his first tournament felt like any normal round.

O’Regan said his favorite moment from the season so far was when the team won its first tournament of the year at Rolling Green Country Club, which was scored using the sum of the top four scores from the team.

“It was my first high school tournament, so for us to win was very cool,” said O’Regan. “I wasn’t nervous, just excited to get the season going, … and shooting a [71] capped it all off.”

During this tournament, Glenbrook North beat 11 other teams with a composite score of 292, one of the team’s best 18-hole rounds, according to O’Regan. This score was eight strokes lower than their best score of 284 at Lake Bluff Golf Club.

Justin Gerbich, boys golf head coach, said O’Regan has been meshing with the team quite well.

“I try to stress that everyone should get along and respect their teammates regardless of the grade level,” said Gerbich. “Low golf scores and being a nice person are what counts.”

Kieffer said O’Regan is the team’s best player, and the team has benefitted from him, especially when he shot one under par in their first tournament.

“His ball striking is the best on the team, and he [has] a good mental game already,” Kieffer said.

O’Regan said despite his teammate’s praise, he does not let it affect his play.

“It’s a team sport, and even if I was or if I am [the best player], my score matters just as much as everybody else’s,” O’Regan said.

O’Regan said watching a live golf tournament influenced him to get involved with the sport.

“My family and I went to the Ryder Cup in 2012, and after that I was like, ‘[Golf] isn’t as boring as I thought it was,’ and then I kind of got into it,” said O’Regan. “I liked how relaxing it was, and I liked golf since with other sports you have to rely on other people, but with golf it’s all on you. If you make a mistake it’s your fault.”

Many teammates have compared O’Regan to alumnus Nick Hardy (‘14), an amateur golfer who plays at the University of Illinois and tied for 52nd in the 2015 U.S. Open and 55th in the 2017 John Deere Classic.

“I think it could be too early to tell, but [O’Regan] definitely has the chance to be as good as [Hardy],” Kieffer said.

O’Regan said Hardy has been a role model for him.

“It feels great to be compared to someone so good because he is going to be on the [PGA] tour someday,” said O’Regan. “I’d love to go pro one day, and just like all young golfers, I’d love for it to become a reality.”

Gerbich said O’Regan loves to play and compete and has made the transition to varsity quite seamlessly.

“[O’Regan] is off to a great start,” said Gerbich. “He plays with passion and enthusiasm. I am looking forward to the next three seasons with him on the team.”

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Freshman provides driving force on golf team