July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Golf: Butler aims to cap season with title

LAFAYETTE TWP. — You couldn’t write a better script for the final event of the Southwest Junior Golf Tour’s 20th season.

With the Player of the Year races in each of the tour’s five divisions up for grabs, today’s Founders Cup Championship at Medina Country Club should provide a perfect ending to two decades of junior golf excellence.

Madison Butler of Hinckley Township tees off on the 10th hole at Pine Hills Golf Club. Butler is in the running for a Founders Cup crown. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

For the first time, the event will be decided over 27 holes played on Medina Country Club’s Red, Blue and Green courses.

“It’s a good change, because anything can happen,” Hinckley Township resident Madison Butler said. “It’s going to be a great competition, because there is a lot of the same caliber of players. I’m excited to see how it goes.”

Butler is no stranger to taking home hardware from the SWGT’s year-end banquet, which follows the Founders Cup tonight at Medina C.C. The incoming Highland freshman won the 10-12 age division twice in her career (2010, 11) and was runner-up last summer in the 13-15 group.

Butler comes into today’s action leading the points race by 100 points over North Ridgeville’s Nicole Gerome. The winner of the Founders Cup is awarded 120 points, which makes the 27-hole affair one that should provide some excitement.

“It feels really good,” Butler said of being the points leader. “(The new format) doesn’t change my approach any, because if you have a tough nine holes, you have another two nine’s left. Every nine holes are like a new round.”

Butler’s future Highland teammate, Alicia Porvasnik, has come on strong in the last couple of weeks after posting victories at the SWGT’s Match Play Championship and the tour’s final event at Pine Hills Golf Club this past week.

Medina’s Samantha Smolinski and Christina Williams will also compete in the 13-15 group.

While Butler is the lone county resident leading her age bracket, a handful of others are in line to make a run.

Hinckley Township native Karly Alexander is just 45 points shy of leader Loren Kreider of Westlake in the 16-18 division after carding a 77 at Pine Hills last Monday. Medina’s Hallie Schuld and Nicole Sherman also will be competing.

With players like Butler, Porvasnik and Alexander the future of Highland golf will be on display today.

“It’s cool,” Butler said. “It’s nice to see them all on the course and build that relationship. It’s really exciting, because I’ve never played on a team before and they’re also such great golfers. I look forward to it.”

Medina’s Connor Thomas has an outside chance at the POY title and will golf in the final group today which includes points leaders Favian Busnawi of Avon and Ben Gleichauf of North Olmsted. Medina resident Ross Scherler is just 10 points behind Thomas in fourth overall.

In the 16-18 division, Collin Miller of Litchfield Township is sixth in the points race. The age group has a tie for POY between Garrett Orseno (North Ridgeville) and Jackson Farling (Rocky River). Both have 650 points.

Brunswick resident and Padua golfer Nick Schley has not golfed in enough SWGT events to compete for POY honors, but he could put a wrench in the race with a win today. Schley was runner-up by a stroke last summer.

Danny Zahn of North Olmsted leads the 14-15 bracket, which is the biggest of the five fields. Look for Medina’s Tyler Grabowski to come in with a low score today, along with Hinckley Township’s Chad Dubiel.

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.