Baker advances to Districts
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Drew Baker has the tools.
As Warwick golf coach Rob Fisher notes, Baker has what it takes to put himself among the top players to come out of the program.
The Warrior junior showed flashes of that at Honeybrook Golf Club on Monday while carding a 7-over 77 at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Boys Championships. While finishing four spots under the cut, Baker qualified for the District Three Triple-A Championships for the second straight year and tied for 11th place overall with Cocalico’s Trevor Bensel and Lampeter-Strasburg’s Devin Cenekofsky.
The District Championships are slated for next Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7-8 at Briarwood East Golf Club in York.
"I’m really happy, but to be honest, both Drew and I expected this," Fisher said. "We’re just looking at this as a stepping stone. Drew can go as far as the State Tournament this year and do well there too. He’s got all the tools to be another excellent Warwick golfer. It’s just a matter of putting it all together."
Andrew Davies and Walt Pelensky were also within striking distance of going to Districts, but they fell barely short with an 84 and 85, respectively.
"I was hoping we would take two or three to Districts," Fisher said. "I didn’t really know which two or three that would be, but we have guys that are capable of doing it … It’s good experience and to be honest, a couple guys would have had to play their career-best rounds just to move on. That (81) was a low cut score."
Baker put himself in good position to make the cut with a 1-over 36 on the front nine. Although he wasn’t quite as sharp while firing a 6-over 41 on the back nine, it was good enough to advance to Districts.
"I was sorta happy with (my round)," said Baker, who shot a 79 at Overlook in last year’s L-L Tournament. "I was upset on the back nine — I shot over 40, so that wasn’t too good. But I played well on the front nine and at least held it together to make the cut."
That front nine effort included a birdie — his only one of the day — on the par-4 ninth hole after sinking a 30-foot putt. He also carded 10 pars while capitalizing on a strong effort on the greens.
"I started making a lot of putts and making some good ones that really helped," Baker said. "I made some longer putts that I don’t normally make, but I knew I could make."
Fisher said that he and Baker have been working on the mental part of the game.
"He’s come a long way in the mental aspect of golf this year," Fisher said, "and it’s really what we’ve been working on. I’m really happy with the way he’s playing right now and he could surprise a lot of people over there (at Districts) in a couple of weeks."
On the back nine, however, Baker’s shots weren’t falling exactly where he had hoped.
"I just put myself in bad positions," he said, "and just didn’t make pars like I wanted to. As long as you’re keeping it in play, you’re going to shoot well, but sometimes it just gets away from you a little bit."
Baker carded a similar score of 75 in a Section One match at Honeybrook last week, and that gave him confidence to go out and play a solid round on Monday.
"Definitely knowing where to hit the ball helped," Baker said. "When you have confidence of knowing where to hit the ball and what club you need to hit off the tee, it really makes a difference on your score and mindset as well."
Rounding out Warwick’s finishers were Steve Frey (91), Ian Hart (92) and Josh Kauffman (95), as the Warriors placed 12th in the team standings with 337 strokes.
In other action, Ben Hollinger was Manheim Central’s top finishers at Leagues with an 86, missing the cut by only five strokes. Eli Perron shot a 93 for the Barons.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 21, the Warwick golfers finished 3-3 with a round of 330 in a Section One match at Honeybrook.
Manheim Township remained undefeated with a first-place score of 282, and then Conestoga Valley (325) and Penn Manor (327) finished just ahead of the Warriors.
Baker was the top scorer for Warwick with a 75, tying him with CV’s Mark Oliveri behind only Township’s JD Dornes (67) for individual medalist honors.
Pelensky also carded a solid score for the Warriors with an 80, while Tyler Sherman (87) and Davies (88) rounded out the squad’s top four. More BAKER, page B-10