Garstecki's return lifts Germantown golfers back into NSC race
Playoff win over Niebrugge a huge boost
Germantown - The game is now afoot in state prep golf, because Germantown's Jakob Garstecki is back from his academic purgatory, kicking butt and taking names in the process.
He beat longtime friend and rival Jordan Niebrugge with a birdie in a playoff to claim medalist honors in the Brookfield Central Skins Tournament on April. 25, and then came back under soggy and cold conditions and finished just two strokes back of Brookfield Central's Eddie Wajda in the shortened Lake Country Charity Invitational on Saturday at Erin Hills.
Garstecki's coach Gary Anderson could not have been any prouder.
"Very proud of him," Anderson said. "He's come back (from his academic suspension) and done it in a gentlemanly way. The maturation process from last year to now is amazing. He literally has gone from being a boy to being a man. And he hasn't done it in an arrogant way, but in a mature way.
"An example of this was we were coming back from Wanaki (on April 25) after Jakob beat Jordan and he and Phillip (Johnson) were jabbering away and laughing and I just tossed in a question 'So how do you like high school golf now?'
"And he just said 'I love it!' He's still just a kid playing high school golf and he's having fun. We can't ask anything more than that."
But much more will be asked of Garstecki, who was seventh at state last season, as the Warhawks, who finished tied for seventh in the Skins Tournament and sixth in the Lake Country event, do battle with Homestead and Cedarburg for the North Shore Conference title. They've had a third and second in mini-meets so far heading into Monday's event at Tripoli, with another scheduled for next Monday at Homestead's home course of Ozaukee.
"Having Jakob back was like getting two people back," Anderson said, "because it really took some pressure off of Phillip (Johnson). Because Phillip had to move into the number one spot in Jakob's absence, he put a lot more pressure on himself. Now with Jakob back, Phillip can go back to playing his old game again. He can be himself."
The Warhawks will also be at the Port Invite at Hawthorne Hills on Friday.
In the Lake Country event, which is a fundraiser for the MACC Fund ($58,950 was collected through the various teams' efforts), all scores were in relation to par, because the shotgun start meant not everybody was playing the same holes.
Germantown had a team total of 30 over par, good for a tie for sixth in the 17-team Division 1 field. Aside from Garstecki, Anderson was proud of the whole team as they decided to make the miserable conditions (40 degrees and rain) a friend rather than an enemy.
"It was the worst conditions that I've seen the kids play through," Anderson said, "but they didn't complain, which I really liked to see. Mark Wilson (PGA golfer originally from Menomonee Falls) told them (all of the teams) before the tournament 'If you're here and excited to be playing then you've beaten about 80 percent of the competition.'
"And that's really true. If you're out there, try to enjoy it because we all saw guys go out from that (warm-up speech) and say 'I can't believe we're playing in this!' "
Erin Hills is widely regarded as one of the best courses in the Midwest and will host the U.S. Open in 2017.
Arrowhead won the meet at 16 over par.
Par 3 decides Skins
At the Skins meet, both Garstecki and Niebrugge carded 18-hole scores of 70 and then went to Wanaki's 196-yard par 3 18th hole. Garstecki hit his tee shot to 10 feet and then made the birdie putt while Niebrugge had to settle for par.
"It was fantastic to see the North Shore so very well represented," veteran Homestead coach Steve O'Brien said. "Hat's off to Jakob. He won it with a birdie. It (the playoff) was a good thing for everyone to see and it was a good thing for Jordan to go through. Would we have liked it to turn out the other way? Of course, but so be it. Jakob's a quality player and Jordan (an Oklahoma State recruit) wants to be listed among the best ever and these are the kind of people he's going to have to beat if he wants to do that."
Anderson said Garstecki recognizes the position that he is in.
"Both had stiffened up a little (heading into the playoff), but it was very much a treat seeing them both walk down the fairway (to the 18th green)," Anderson said. "Jakob's always been in the chaser role in this relationship while Jordan's been the figurehead at the top of the conference for a couple of years now.
"So for Jakob to beat him here is very important for his psyche'."
Ironically, Germantown and Homestead finished tied for seventh at the Skins meet with matching 18-hole scores of 320. Johnson turned in a 76, Logan Sterns an 84, Mike Loftus 90 and Mike Mueller 91 for the Warhawks.
The Indians tied for sixth in the Lake Country meet with Germantown at 30 over par while at the Onalaska Invitational the day before they were 15th with an 18-hole score of 362. Brendan Paule and Joel Zyhowski each carded scores of 88. At the Skins meet, Falls came up with an 18-hole score of 328, good for 12th as Kevin Burchardt led the way with a 77 while Zyhowski came in with an 82 and Paule an 83.
Falls was at the SVA Meet at Bristlecone Pines on Tuesday.
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