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After recovering clubs from creek, Washington teammates tie for MVC divisional golf title

Slattery, Neighbors top three-round field; Warriors win team championship

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IOWA CITY – Things didn’t seem to be going Alex Slattery’s way.

He missed a putt on the ninth hole, placing him above par. Then, he opened the back nine with an errant tee shot. The worst was yet to come.

While looking for his ball, Slattery’s cart rolled into a creek that crosses the 10th fairway, submerging his bag with the cart handle the only thing above water. He lost his phone, an expensive range finder, club covers and a sweater.

Despite all that, the Cedar Rapids Washington junior had plenty to celebrate at the end. Slattery shot 77 and tied teammate Connor Neighbors for Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division Player of the Year honors after the final round of divisional play Monday at Pleasant Valley Golf Course.

Washington’s Frank Lindwall was medalist, firing 73 and helping the Warriors to a third straight conference crown.

Slattery felt things sinking along with his bag and push cart that reached the hazard before other players could stop it.

“My tee shot went way right,” Slattery said. “I went to the water to look. I had put the brake on it and a gust of wind came up. It went rolling right into the water.”

Slattery was shocked. He wondered if he’d be able to finish the round and salvage a rare set of Nike clubs.

“I thought if I don’t get my clubs out of the water I’ll have to withdraw,” said Slattery, who would have had to forfeit all-conference accolades. “All the clubs were still barely in. I had seaweed on my bag when I pulled it out.”

Somehow Slattery regrouped, sticking his tee shot a couple feet behind the pin on the par-3 13th. He said it was the best shot of the round. Slattery drained the birdie putt of the 180-yard hole.

“That was the turning point,” Slattery said. “I took an 8-iron. I hit it well. I hit it flush.”

Two holes later, Slattery received another boost. He chipped in from well in front of the 15th green, posting an eagle.

Neighbors, a sophomore, carded a 76, eclipsing a one-stroke deficit to Slattery and Dubuque Hempstead’s Joey Kaesbauer, who shot 83. Slattery and Neighbors finished with a three-round total of 226.

“I thought it was appropriate those guys tied,” Washington Coach Dennis Goettel said. “They’ve been back and forth all season. They’ve been tremendous.”

Slattery said if he had to share the top spot with anyone he was glad it was Neighbors.

“It’s fun,” Slattery said. “We’ve grown up together. We’re really close friends.

“He deserved it.”

Lindwall had been the Player of the Year the last two seasons. He captured medalist honors in the final two rounds of divisional play, but was not eligible for all-conference recognition after missing the MVC Super Meet, which serves as the first of three rounds. He remained a key component in the Warriors team title and did land all-academic honors.

“I just tried to play the best I can and help the team,” Lindwall said. “I could still help with the overall team score and that’s what I tried to do.”

The Warrior handled the course that caused fits when it came to putting and handling a strong wind. Niko Varvaris shot 93 to round out the team score. Washington finished with 319, despite missing a starter to illness, and beat Cedar Falls by seven. The Warriors totaled 951 over the three divisional rounds, 12 better than the Tigers.

“There were tough conditions,” said Goettel, which echoed Lindwall’s opinion. “The wind was tough. I thought our guys managed it well.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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