CEDAR RAPIDS - Significant tennis accolades are often the byproduct of substantial individual focus.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Nothing to lose turned into another title to gain.
Justin Pansegrau used an aggressive approach to add to the trophies he keeps stashed away in a drawer at home.
Pansegrau erased a deficit on the final nine holes, shooting 3-under for the final seven holes to capture his second straight City Amateur golf championship Sunday at Ellis Golf Course. He shot 2-under 70 for a three-round total of 210, edging J.D. Schlotterback and Kirkwood sophomore Jordan Even by one stroke.
“It was such a nail-biter that I really couldn’t focus on winning,” Pansegrau said. “I’m just relieved now, I guess, because it was a grind all weekend.”
Pansegrau, of Marion, shared the lead with Even, going into the final turn. A double bogey dropped Pansegrau into a tie for second that became third when Schlotterback birdied the following hole. Pansegrau received a boost with a birdie on the par-5 No. 3 hole, sharing second with Even just one back of Schlotterback, who also birdied that hole.
He realized he had to attack the pin more late in the round.
“Just being behind and knowing I had to make a move,” Pansegrau said. “I had the lead earlier and then you start thinking about it and kind of letting off the gas then bad things sometimes happen, and it did. Having to birdie, I just felt confident doing that.”
Pansegrau forced a three-way tie with two to play when he rolled a 4-iron approach within a few feet of the cup on the 463-yard, par-4 No. 7 hole. With opportunities waning, he drained the crucial putt, having to step away from his first attempt when a car drove by and obnoxiously honked.
“We all have a routine,” Pansegrau said. “I just backed off and did my routine. It worked out.”
Pansegrau took the lead the very next hole, sticking a tee shot within a few feet of the hole and converting the birdie putt for a one-stroke edge on both, which held when they all parred the final hole.
Pansegrau has made strides, winning the inaugural CRANDIC Tour event and competing for the amateur title at the Waterloo Open. Mental toughness helped him limit a rough opening round at Gardner.
“This has probably been my best summer,” Pansegrau said. “The game isn’t necessarily getting a lot better but mentally I can hang in there with bad days.
“It’s been a great summer and this kind of caps it off.”
Schlotterback matched Pansegrau with 70 Sunday, taking a lead with consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 2 and 3. Schlotterback had a chance to tie Pansegrau on the last hole, but just missed a short putt, leaving him tied for second. Pansegrau praised Schlotterback, who is moving to Philadelphia soon and may have played his last City Am.
“I told him it’s a big loss to the golf community,” Pansegrau said. “He’s a great player. He’s won everything there is to win around here.”
Schlotterback and Even finished tied at 211. The pair played a sudden-death playoff, returning to the No. 9 tee box. Three playoff holes failed to determine a true runner-up so they shared that honor.
The tough competition helped push Even and added to the thrill of the event.
“The whole back nine was just back and forth,” Even said. “One would take the lead and one would come back with a birdie. I think it was one shot the whole day between the three of us.”
Even is a sophomore at Kirkwood, earning honorable mention All-American honors for the NJCAA national runner-up program. He returns to the Eagles in a couple weeks, looking to carry the momentum of last spring and this summer.
“Hopefully, I keep playing well for the Kirkwood season,” said Even, sporting his Kirkwood shirt for the round. “This was a great tournament to lead into it.”
Even’s former Cedar Rapids Xavier teammate, Matt Junge, placed fourth overall with 212. Junge posted the best round Sunday, shooting 3-under 69.
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