For anyone who might be taking notice in bluegrass country, Perrysburg's Dan McIntyre is a young man on a mission.
The sophomore-to-be at the University of Kentucky will attempt to make the Wildcat golf team as a walk-on in a few weeks, and his 3-and-2 victory over Jay Mullett in the championship-flight finals of the S.P. Jermain Memorial match-play tournament yesterday at Ottawa Park certainly won't hurt as a tune-up for that bid.
Playing in his first Jermain tournament, McIntyre was also the medalist by two strokes with a 4-under-par 67 in the July 12 qualifying round here. He credits his improved play to two years of working for and hitting countless balls at The Practice Tee, a driving range near Perrysburg.
“I was just trying to make pars, put it on the green, give myself a chance and make him do something,” said McIntyre, who earned a 3.0 grade-point average in his first year as a business and political science major at UK.
“I've usually had junior events I play during this [Jermain] week, but this will be one I'm playing from now on. I'll be back next year. This is a big deal to me. There were 180 or 190 people in this [entered for qualifier], so it's good to be the champion. I had a great time.”
McIntyre, 19, a 2002 Perrysburg High graduate, began poorly yesterday. His tee shot on No. 1 flew well right up a hill and amid a cluster of trees, which he struck on each of his next two shots on the way to a bogey-6 and a quick 1-down deficit.
“I wasn't really loose and I blocked my tee shot to the right,” McIntyre said. “I had a side-hill lie and tried to hit something out to the fairway and I chunked it.
“But I hit all 15 greens [in regulation] after No. 1, and I had a lot of birdie chances. I got the long ones close and I made the short ones.”
It was the only trouble McIntyre would find before closing out the 1984 Van Buren High grad and former Wright State University player.
McIntyre - the 2001 Toledo District Golf Association's junior boys player of the year - responded with birdie 3s on the next two holes and took a 1-up lead.
He then smacked a 320-yard drive on the 473-yard, par-5 fourth hole before landing a 9-iron approach seven feet from the pin. When Mullett missed his par putt, he conceded the eagle to McIntyre, who was suddenly 2-up.
“I got my timing with my driver and hit it really well down the middle there,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre never made another bogey, added a birdie-3 on No. 11, and closed the title run with a five-foot putt for a birdie-3 at 16 after Mullett missed his own 30-foot birdie putt by inches.
Mullett, 37, whose furthest advancement in six Jermain events was the second round (last year) in the 64-player championship flight, did little wrong in the final.
His only bogey of the day came on No. 4, and he carded a birdie-2 with a four-foot putt on the 96-yard 14th hole to pull within 2 down.
“That was a good momentum swing,” Mullett said of No. 1. “I started off how I wanted to. But Dan just played real good. The only mistake I made all day was pushing a drive on 4 behind a tree, and that was more Mother Nature than a mistake.”
“You never want to see anybody start off like that, but [McIntyre] just came right back. There weren't really that many [scoring] chances for me. The only other chance I had was on No. 9 when I didn't get it up and down [for birdie]. Over 16 holes, when you only hit two bad shots, you can't be too upset with yourself.”
Mullett's even-par play could not counter the consistently accurate McIntyre, who ended the front nine at 3-under 33 and was 5-under after 16. All four of his successful birdie putts came from within five feet.
Hole No. 7 was special for Mullett, who scored his second career ace in a first-round Jermain match on July 13 - a 124-yard sand wedge.