Lance Sininger entered the Southwest Ohio Division III sectional golf tournament last Tuesday calm, cool and collected.
And it showed.
The Georgetown junior fired a 5-under 67 to finish first in the tournament at Walden Ponds Golf Course and send himself to the Southwest Ohio Division III district tournament at Glenview Golf Club on Wednesday.
“I just looked at it as one of those tournament that I felt I was always good enough to advance,” said Sininger. “I tried to stay calm and play the game that I knew that I can.”
It was Sininger’s fifth time playing at Walden Ponds, but he didn’t get off to a great start as, bogeying the second hole.
That’s when his round took off.
Sininger says he birdied three of the next six holes and shot a 34 on the front nine.
Since Sininger started playing for Georgetown coach Sheri Griffith as a freshman, his whole game has gotten better, but she’s been especially impressed by his ability to drive the ball and bounce back from mistakes to stay around par this season.
“I think his entire golfing has gotten better. He was good before, but this year he seems to know what he is doing,” said Griffith. “If he messes up, he figures it out and figures out a way to get back to even par.”
It was after that third birdie that he knew he had a shot at the sectional title.
“I was 2-under at that point, and 2-under was the lowest score I’d ever seen at the tournament,” said Sininger. “I knew if I got a couple scores on the back side I’d have a great chance to win it.”
On a day with temperatures above 80 degrees, maintaining that strong play is easier said than done, but the Georgetown junior had energy from his performance on the front nine.
“Most of the time when I go out with my dad we play 36 holes with a cart. It was definitely hot because our jerseys are black,” said Sininger. “But we had a lot of momentum going on our side and I just wanted to keep riding the momentum.”
Sininger was not only able to maintain his score from the front nine, but did better on the back nine to finish with a 5-under 67. He says the score was one shot better than his personal best from just going out and playing, and by far his best in a tournament.
It was also a big improvement from his first time playing in the tournament – rainy and cold day that resulted in what Sininger says is one of the worst of his career. Last year he advanced to the district by firing a 2-over 74.
“That got me second in the tournament all-around. I made it to districts last year. It was at Beavercreek [Golf Course],” said Sininger. “I don’t remember exactly what I shot, but I wasn’t as prepared. I hadn’t been that far in my golf career. It was something new for me and I went in blind.”
Sininger’s scores have only gotten better since then. He led the team to fifth at the sectional tournament, just four strokes away from tying the fourth and final qualifying team, Southeastern. He’s hoping the team, which had no seniors scoring in the tournament, can come back next year and hopefully win the league, advance to the district and possibly the state tournament, which would be a first for the boys’ golf team at Georgetown.
“This year he’s just really been on fire. He’s had a couple of sup-par rounds all year long. He’s either right at par golf or right under,” said Griffith. “He’s been a real solid player.”
Since he’s already firing under par, Griffith says there’s not much more she can teach him. He gets input from professionals and still hits the course with first coach and father, Raymond Sininger.
“My dad has obviously played a huge part in my golf career,” said Sininger. “When I was 13 months old he started showing me how to do everything in the sport. He’s kind of like my sidekick with it because I don’t have any siblings. He helps me stay calm and focused and stay through it all.”
Sininger played at Glenview on July 31 for the CRC Shootout on the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association 1905 Junior Tour. He fired a 2-over 74 and won the event.
And with the work he’s put in since last year’s district tournament, he feels he can compete and possibly claim one of two individual qualifying spots for the state tournament when he tees off at 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Next Wednesday, I feel like I’m a whole lot more prepared,” said Sininger. "I have a lot more experience, I played in a lot of summer tournaments and I feel like I can compete at a high level with all of them.”