It’s in the bag. It’s up in the air. It’s a sigh of relief.
Strasburg All-Ohioan Mitch Neidenthal had a spot at state all but sewn up as he walked down the 18th fairway at River Greens Golf Course on Monday, Oct. 1 during Div. III district play.
While his Tigers, who had qualified for state the past two seasons, were not going to make it as a team, Neidenthal appeared locked into the one individual spot that comes out of the district.
Then came one hairy moment that led to a lot of nervous waiting, but the senior eventually found his way to state, where he will participate for a third and final time.
With loads of experience, Neidenthal is anticipating a great weekend of golf at state, and he has set his sights high.
“I want to repeat and be better than last year in every way possible,” Neidenthal said. “Last year I played really well, and I don’t want to be that senior who peaked his junior year, and I think I accomplished that.”
Neidenthal has been brilliant all season, which led to him being named the Inter-Valley Conference Player of the Year.
“I have my eyes set on First Team this year,” Neidenthal said.
He will have to do that without the support of his team, but once he hits the first tee box, it all comes down to focusing on his own game and doing his thing.
At districts Neidenthal seemed to have things in hand coming into 18, where he entered at one over par. However, after a fantastic tee shot, he hit his approach shot long, avoiding the water in front of the green. That left him with a precarious downhill pitch to the hole, and his pitch shot rolled across the green, caught the downslope and found the water. That cost him a triple bogey, and he had to sweat it out to see if he would have a chance to duplicate or better his Second Team All-Ohio effort last year.
“That was a great round until the last hole,” Neidenthal said.
Oddly enough his range finder had died, so he didn’t have the exact yardage to the pin for his approach shot, and it nearly cost him.
That wasn’t the only thing that had him on edge. Upon arriving, he pulled his clubs out to find that the shaft on his driver was broken. He immediately called his parents, who were en route to have them go back and get his other driver, but meanwhile the staff at River Greens was able to reshaft the club, so no harm, no foul.
Neidenthal said he can use the finale at districts as fuel for state. He said his last several rounds have not finished well, and he hopes this will motivate him to see things through to the end.
“I think if I can finish my rounds strong, I can compete with the best guys down at state,” Neidenthal said.
As a sophomore Neidenthal was one of the Tigers to play at state, and that team played at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury, the site of this year’s state tournament. Having that experience and having been battle-tested with two years of state tournament experience should be beneficial for the Tiger senior.
“I’ll have a lot more experience than most guys at state, and I think that will help me be a lot more confident and less nervous,” Neidenthal said.