Westfield High School’s Timmy Hildebrand knew the fate of his team’s chances for the high school boys golf state championship rested on his shoulders as he strolled to the 18th hole as a member of the final foursome.
He responded by hitting the green in two shots to set up a birdie putt. When he made his 12-foot putt, the gallery erupted and the sophomore showed excitement … and relief.
No. 4 Westfield overcame a two-stroke deficit with three holes to go as Hildebrand birdied the final two holes at The Legends Golf Club, while No. 1 Columbus North junior Michael Vaneventer had a par and a bogey. Zionsville’s Adam Wood won the individual state championship.
Westfield ended with a record 1-under-par 575; Columbus North was two strokes back.
“I knew it was tight … I knew down the stretch it would take hitting some birdies,” Hildebrand said. “I knew at the time I needed to make the putt (on 18). As it turned out, I could have two-putted.”
As Hildebrand’s final putt was rolling, he said he was thinking about senior teammates Colton Smith and David Hildebrand, his brother.
“I knew it was the last chance for them to pull off a state title,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard and come so far to get where we are today. To see that putt fall in — it was the greatest feeling ever.”
Last season, the Shamrocks missed the cut with a 29-over-par 317 in the program’s first trip to the finals. This season, they not only captured the team’s first state title, but did so by shattering the two-day event record.
“We knew last year was a fluke,” Hildebrand said. “This year we came calm and collected. We gave it all we had and held nothing back, and that was shown by beating the 36-hole record by 12 shots.”
It was not smooth sailing for the Shamrocks junior as he averted disaster on No. 15.
“I hit it in the water on No. 15,” he said. “I got a little too aggressive there, but stepped into the pond and knocked it out.”
He recovered to chip in for the first of his pivotal late-round birdies.
Hildebrand was not the only Shamrock to shine on the course, as Smith, Keith Ponsler and Thomas Lewis all improved on their first-day totals.
“When you shoot 1 under for 36 holes, it has to be a team effort,” Westfield coach Jon Hoover said.
Smith, No. 5 in the lineup, shot his career best during his last round of high school golf. His 2 under was a five-stroke improvement from his opening round.
Wood, a junior, took home individual honors with a two-day total of 8-under 136.
“I dodged a bullet there and was lucky to pull this one out,” Wood said. “It always comes down to one or two shots. I played some quality golf and got a few putts to go my way.”
Wood was in the clubhouse early since he was playing as an individual. He had to wait until Floyd Central’s Devin Jenkins, who was in the final group, finished with a 137.
“I knew that it would happen for Adam. I just didn’t know when,” Zionsville coach Steve Simmons said. “I am hoping he will come back next year and defend his title.”
Other area players to place near the top of the individual leaderboard were Tim Hildebrand (138) in third and Avon’s Keegan McKinney (142) in a tie for seventh.
Noblesville, which finished fifth, had a tremendous turnaround with a 283 in the final round, tying the 2011 Columbus North team for record low 18-hole total. The Millers shot 309 on the first day.