CEDAR RAPIDS — Drew Muilenburg possesses the physical skill and knowledge when it comes to playing golf.
Recently, the Linn-Mar junior has focused on the mental approach to the game in order to make a leap in competition.
“He’s a unique player,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris James said. “He has a lot of feel. He reminds me of Bubba Watson in that he’s a feel player. He knows a lot about the game.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve worked on is not getting too high or too low on the course. He’s done a good job managing his emotions and his stress out there.”
Muilenburg was in control Monday, shooting 74 and sharing medalist honors with Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart at the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Divisional Meet at Jones Golf Course. He was one of three Lions in the top five, helping Linn-Mar win the team race with a 307.
“It felt really good to see some putts fall early on,” Muilenburg said. “It really got my confidence going. I knew if I hit good shots I’d put myself in position to score well.”
Muilenburg has discovered how to channel his excitement and deal with any disappointment during a round. A level-headed attitude prevents the previous shot from affecting the next one. More consistent scores are a byproduct.
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“I only had one double bogey,” Muilenburg said. “I think I did a pretty good job of not compounding my errors, for sure.”
A solid short game and strong start helped propel Muilenburg to his lowest 18-hole score of the season. He started on the 18th tee and carded his first birdie on the par-4 No. 4, maintaining par through five holes. He overcame a tee shot into the rough by placing his approach 5 feet from the hole.
“I knocked the birdie putt in and that was to get back to even par,” Muilenburg said. “I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be a good round.’
“In the past, I’ve had more of my mediocre rounds where I start with a couple pars and a bogey early on. I didn’t want to fall back into that slump. The birdie showed me this round was going to be different.”
The Lions were impressive overall. Dillon Burr placed third overall, finishing one shot back of Muilenburg. Carter Vieth tied for fifth, carding a 78. Cole Weber rounded out the scoring with an 80.
“I feel like we played close to our ability today,” James said. “What I thought was really important was at this course you can get offline, make some mistakes and make some big numbers. Those three in particular kept it in play and didn’t shoot themselves out of it.
“They hit it in the junk and chipped it out. They played smart. They are starting to learn and see that’s how they are going to have to score some days.”
The Lions topped Kennedy by nine Monday, increasing their overall lead to 11 for the third and final round in two weeks to determine Valley Division honors.
“It’s something to build on,” Muilenburg said. “We have to stay calm and stay in the moment. This is the first meet where we had four scores really put together, so we know we can do that now. We just have to execute.”
Barnhart shared in the victory, collecting three birdies. Gannon Hall tied for fifth with 78. A.J. Corkery and Brady Shea added 82 apiece for the Cougars.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONFERENCE VALLEY DIVISIONAL MEET
At Jones Golf Course
Teams – 1. Linn-Mar 307, 2. C.R. Kennedy 316, 3. Dubuque Wahlert 325, 4. Dubuque Hempstead 341, 5. Waterloo West 347, 6. C.R. Jefferson 363, 7. Iowa City Liberty 372, 8. Iowa City West 381.
Individuals – 1. (tie) Brock Barnhart (CRK) and Drew Muilenburg (LM), 74, 3. Dillon Burr (LM), 75, 4. Ben Vaassen (DW), 76, 5. (tie) Carter Vieth (LM) and Gannon Hall (CRK), 78.
LINN-MAR (307): Muilenburg 74, Burr 75, Vieth 78, Cole Weber 80.
KENNEDY (316): Barnhart 74, Hall 78, A.J. Corkery 82, Brady Shea 82.
JEFFERSON (363): Logan Miller 83, Ryan May 92, Tyler Schmitz 92, Adam Panoch 96.
I.C. LIBERTY (372): Tate Brunk 92, Shane Alberts 92, A.J. Meyer 93, Connor Roach 95, Luke Nichols 95.
I.C. WEST (381): Andrew Tauchen 87, Brendan Klutts 94, Brady Simcox 100, Caleb Kirk 100.
VALLEY DIVISION TOTALS
(Through two of three rounds)
Teams – 1. Linn-Mar 616, 2. C.R. Kennedy 627, 3. Dubuque Wahlert 653, 4. Dubuque Hempstead 671, 5. Waterloo West 696, 6. I.C. Liberty 725, 7. C.R. Jefferson 750, 8. I.C. West 775.
Individuals – 1. (tie) Barnhart (CRK) and Burr (LM), 145, 3. Muilenburg 154, 4. Vaassen (DW), 156, 5. Vieth (LM), 159.
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