AVON LAKE — It took roughly eight seconds for the worst shot of Steve Schniegenberg’s career to become “ridiculous” in a very good way.
Facing a desperate situation on the second hole of a playoff Monday at the Sweetbriar Division I Sectional, the Highland junior got an incredibly lucky bounce on a mishit shot and finished off Rocky River’s Greg Manuel, leaving everyone who witnessed it in shock.
Schniegenberg will join Med-ina’s team and Brunswick’s Joey Bachman and Blake Carpenter at the Pine Hills District on Oct. 13. “It was pretty ridiculous, I would say,” Schniegenberg said. “I got lucky there. I really don’t know what to say. I’m just pretty excited right now.”
Tied with Manuel for the fourth and final individual position after 18 holes with a 5-over par 77, Schniegenberg had to rally on the first playoff hole, the par-4 No. 1, to even get his chance at greatness as he sunk a pressure-packed 7-footer for par.
Not even he could have expected what happened two With Manuel punching out of trees on the left to in front of the green, Schniegenberg, who was in a throng of trees to the right 70 yards from the cup, elected to play it safe himself and tried to hit his ball to the same spot.
With two trees on his right, one on his left and one between him and the pin, the left-hander badly mishit a 7iron, but it somehow stayed low enough to avoid branches, hooked around the greenside trunk inches away from disaster, bounced on the lip of the elevated green and stopped 17 feet from the cup.
Schniegenberg then calmly two-putted for par and Manuel failed on his attempt to match from 15 feet, inducing a big round of applause from the rest of the Hornets.
“There was a little area in the fairway and I was just trying to get up-and-down and beat him,” Schniegenberg said. “I accidentally turned over on it, threaded a little needle there, put it through two trees and got it to the green.”
The win capped a roller-coaster day for the third-year player as he made the turn at 40, chipped in for birdie on No. 8 and held it together for a 37 on Sweetbriar Legacy’s front side.
Medina needed no lucky bounces to advance to districts for the eighth straight season. The Bees couldn’t down St. Ignatius (295), but any day when a 78 from Patrick Luth is tossed out is a good one, especially coming off a 323 in brutal conditions Saturday at the Medina County Invitational.
Senior Mike Bishop continued his strong second half of the season with an even-par 72. Sophomore Sean Sherman and junior Bobby Koch followed with 75s, while Austin Schreiber rebounded after a slow start to take 78.
“Being winners last year, we needed to do something and step up,” said Sherman, whose team broke 300 in a postseason tournament for the second time in six years. “Everyone went pretty low. Having five scores in the 70s is always good.
“The course wasn’t easy. Everyone was on and making putts and stuff, so it’s always good to be able to come back strong after a bad round.”
Bachman (71) and Carpenter (74) rebounded even better than Medina’s team with career lows at the perfect time, though Brunswick (309) lost out to Strongsville by one stroke despite shooting its lowest sectional score in school history.
It was even more special for Carpenter, a senior, as he was coming off a 92 on Saturday at Weymouth Country Club and responded with a school record- breaking 16 pars, including 15 straight thanks to a 56-degree wedge that set up 5-foot money putts all afternoon.
“When I was on the streak of the 15 pars, it felt pretty amazing,” he said. “I just felt like I couldn’t hit a bad shot and when I did, I was able to get up-and-down to save par anyway. It really was a mental thing. I didn’t think about it at all because I was playing really cool.”
Bachman, meanwhile, shot a blistering 34 on the back nine to finish just one shot behind medalist Tim Smith from Rocky River. His 1-under 71 was the lowest in the nearly 50 years of Blue Devils golf at a course other than Pine Hills.
“It’s really nice to know I’ve made it (to districts) twice,” Bachman said. “Coming into the day, I was really nervous. First hole I took a double and I was getting more nervous, but I birdied three holes over the next 17 holes.”
Highland (333) finished tied for eight overall out of 15 teams. Schniegenberg led the way, while senior Cody Lyon chipped in an 82. Cody Geisler (84) posted the low score for Cloverleaf, which shot 344 to tie for 10th.
Contact Albert Grindle at email@example.com.
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