Bryce Hammer and Will Grevlos have been golfing together since they were about eight years old.
Their participation in the sport is what brought them together back then, and it is what’s bonded them ever since.
“Me and Bryce, we’ve known each other since I started playing,” Grevlos explained. “We just have a really great friendship through golf.”
What makes Hammer and Grevlos unique is that they are two of the best golfers in the state, competing for rival Sioux Falls schools – Hammer for O’Gorman and Grevlos for Washington.
Their status within the realm of Class AA boys golf often leads to them being paired together for major events and tournaments, as was the case Monday for the final round of the City Meet. One would think that that, taken into consideration with their skill level, would mean there’s a potentially contentious rivalry brewing underneath the surface.
But that’s not the case – not by a long shot.
Brian Hank Haenchen (@Brian_Haenchen) September 20, 2016
“It’s awesome,” Hammer said of getting to play against Grevlos on a regular basis. “We know each other’s game really well and enjoy the competitiveness of each other and just being around each other during the round…
“We feel good for each other no matter what happens.”
“We both know we’re really good players and we both know we can turn it on at any time,” Grevlos added. “It’s just fun out there competing against him.”
After finishing second to Grevlos at last year’s City Meet, Hammer seized the overall lead early and held on over the final few holes at Willow Run to claim top medalist honors.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking down the stretch,” the O’Gorman junior said. “I had a good pretty good lead after about 13 holes, but I think the nerves got to me a little bit.”
As they weaved through the back nine, it looked like Hammer was poised to seize control.
A bogey-free first 13 holes had him at 5-under for the round, and placed him two strokes ahead of Grevlos for first place overall. Though on paper that margin may seem rather precarious, Hammer’s performance up until that point made it seem much, much larger. He was riding a wave of momentum as they prepared to tee off on the par-5 14th, having birdied four of his last seven holes.
But even with everything going his way, Hammer knew better than to count Grevlos out.
“Will’s a great player. I knew he was going to make a late charge,” Hammer said.
Sure enough, a missed par putt on 14 opened the door for Grevlos, who took advantage with a birdie to get to 2-under for the round and within a shot of Hammer for medalist honors.
Hammer posted his second bogey of the day a couple holes later on the par-3 16th. Though Grevlos was unable to capitalize, it was clear that his opponent was vulnerable as they headed towards the final two holes.
“I was playing great the whole round,” Hammer said, “but I got pretty lucky with a few par saves, so I knew I had a few coming for me on the end holes.”
Both players had to settle for par on 17, setting the stage for No. 18.
At the very least, a birdie by Grevlos would place an immense amount of pressure on Hammer as he tried to close out the round. The Washington junior put himself in position to do just that, sticking his second shot on the green within a few feet of the hole, but his birdie attempt petered out as it neared the lip of the cup.
Grevlos' attempt at birdie on 18... https://t.co/bXT9XOWlKA—
Brian Hank Haenchen (@Brian_Haenchen) September 20, 2016
“I hit it a good speed,” Grevlos lamented. “I thought I hit a good putt, it just broke a little more than I thought.”
When it was all said and done, Grevlos ended his round with a 1-under 70, while Hammer had a 3-under 68.
They both shot a 36 (E) on the back nine.
“I really played well on the back nine, but it’s tough when Bryce is doing the same thing,” Grevlos said. “It was really exciting down the stretch.”
Aside from next week’s Metro Meet at Willow Run, the next time Grevlos and Hammer will go head-to-head will likely be at the state meet in Aberdeen Oct. 3-4.
KNIGHTS CAPTURE TEAM TITLE
While there was plenty of drama surrounding the medalist race – Grevlos held a one-shot lead over Hammer and Roosevelt’s Jack Lundin going into Monday’s round – there wasn’t much doubt as to who would be taking home the team title…again.
“We were real close, then we pulled away (after round two),” O’Gorman coach Tom Jansa said, “then we went out today and played pretty well.”
As a team, the Knights shot a 300, bringing their total score to 899. They were followed in the standings by Washington (920), Lincoln (924) and Roosevelt (952).
“City is a big deal for us, multiple-day event, almost all the other events we play are one-day deals and this is one that replicates what we hope to do at state, which is our big goal,” Jansa said. “(State) is a two-day event where you don’t win it on your first day. You have to hang in there.”
In terms of individual performances, Lincoln, O’Gorman and Washington all had three golfers finish in the top 10.
• Roosevelt’s Jack Lundin, who was dealing with an illness according to his father, finished third with a total score of 218. It’s worth pointing out that after posting four bogeys on the front nine, Lundin managed to close out just one-shot over on the back nine. He entered the round tied with Hammer for second, just one shot back of Grevlos.
• Jansa on nerves: “Nerves affect everybody and learning how to deal with them is the acid test for the golfer. No matter how many times you’re there, you learn a little something about how to calm yourself or what to do to get you to the finish line.”
• Hammer on how he’s feeling heading into the final couple weeks before state: “I feel good. My game’s in the right place and if I just play smart and execute, I think I can be in contention.”
Team scores: 1, O’Gorman, 899; 2, Washington, 920; 3, Lincoln, 924; 4, Roosevelt, 952.
Individual scores: 1, Bryce Hammer, OG, 211; 2, Will Grevlos, SFW, 212; 3, Jack Lundin, SFR, 218; 4, George Mickelson, SFL, 223; 5, Tyler Westra, SFL, 226; 6, Sam Sutcliffe, OG, 227; 7, Justin Kolb, OG, 228; 8, Nathan Woodall, SFW, 229; 9, Hank Eggebraaten, SFW, 235; 10, Bronson Vasa, SFL, 236;
11, Michael Statz, OG, 237; 12, Jack Johnson, OG, 239; 13, Max Honner, SFL, 240; 14, Max Erickson, SFR, 243; 14, Jared Jost, SFR, 246; 16, Ryan Neff, SFL, 247; 16, Devin Gilbertson, SFW, 248; 16, Austyn Burfeind, SFR, 250; 19, Luke Bunkers, SFR, 250; 20, Adam Schrader, SFL, 252;
21, Hunter Von Bergen, SFR, 252; 22, Matt Randall, SFR, 253; 23, Lincoln Shafer, SFW, 253; 23, Alex Westra, SFL, 255; 25, Blake Dornbusch, OG, 258; 26, Dylan Gulbranson, SFW, 258; 27, Owen Holmes, OG, 262; 28, Hunter Kearney, SFW, 263; 29, Sam Torbert, SFW, 263; 30, Jack Koester, SFL, 275
31, Alex King, OG, 304
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .