SPRING GREEN — Mount Horeb senior Kasen Fager’s golf game came together Tuesday when he started dialing in his irons and draining putts.
That didn’t begin occurring until his second nine holes, played on The House on the Rock Resort golf course’s front nine.
But Fager’s 33 — including three of his four birdies — on those final holes carried him to a 2-over-par 73 and overall medalist honors at the Badger Conference tournament.
“After my first nine I wasn’t feeling that great, but it started clicking and I started making putts,” said Fager, who plans to play golf at Edgewood College. “It’s really nice (to win) because there are a lot of good players in our conference.”
Badger North Conference champion Fager finished two shots ahead of Waunakee senior Ryan Johnson, whose 75 was a season best. Beaver Dam senior Zak Kulka was third with a 76 (the tournament used a par-71 layout, instead of the usual 72).
“He got hot and had birdies on 5, 6 and 8, and just missed a birdie on No. 9,” Mount Horeb coach Nolan Krentz said of Fager. “A 33, I don’t care where you are playing, that’s impressive. He’s been playing well lately.”
Krentz said Fager has a knack for clutch putting.
“He’s always been a great ball striker,” Krentz said. “When he starts canning those putts from that 8-to-10 foot range it separates him from shooting 72 or 73, instead of 76 or 77. … He’s been one of the top two or three players in the Badger North, which is one of the better conferences around.”
Waunakee and Madison Edgewood defended their Badger North and Badger South team titles, respectively. Each claimed their overall conference championships after earning first places in conference mini-meet competition for the North and South this season.
Waunakee, ranked ninth in Division 1 in the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin poll, shot 307 — the day’s low total. Mount Horeb was the Badger North runner-up with 319.
Johnson led the way for the Warriors, whose top four golfers shot in the 70s. Seniors Sean Murphy and Jacob Werlein each had 77s and senior Joe Guerrera shot 78.
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“I felt really comfortable today,” Johnson said. “I was just trying not to make big mistakes. I was trying to keep the ball in play and to not make big scores. … We’ve been together for a long time and we’ve played together for a long time. The four of us have been on varsity since sophomore year. We know each other and we have each other’s back.”
Waunakee won the Badger North tournament for the second consecutive year, after edging Reedsburg by one stroke a year ago.
Waunakee coach Betsy Zadra expected a battle with Mount Horeb, which finished one point behind the Warriors after the Badger North’s four mini-meets. She said she encouraged her team to be fearless, patient and to breathe on the course, and believed her team stayed focused and didn’t flinch.
“They know the course,” she said. “They know how to play it. They know where the misses on this course are and where the good misses are. They know it’s not going to be won on the front nine. They know it’s going to be a battle until the end.
“Mount Horeb has been a formidable opponent all year long. They are the real deal. … We have known all season long they’d be in it right to the end. Our guys really handled it well today.”
Edgewood, which has won the past two WIAA Division 2 state titles and is top-ranked in Division 2 this season, won the Badger South with a 318 total and claimed its 14th consecutive league tournament title, Crusaders coach Joe Ring said. Oregon was runner-up with 327.
“We are having a very good season,” Ring said. “We are playing very well.”
Oregon senior John Klus and Edgewood senior James Gilmore each shot 76, with Klus taking first in the Badger South after a scorecard playoff. Edgewood junior Karl Gilmore had a 79 and earned third after a scorecard playoff with teammate Brody Andes and Oregon’s Sam Schroeder.
Edgewood — led by James Gilmore, who plans to attend Miami (Ohio) and walk-on for golf — rallied from a five-shot deficit to Oregon over the final nine holes (on the back nine).
“We had to work hard today,” Ring said. “We started off nervous. Maybe not Karl and James, but my other three guys hadn’t played a high school tournament here. We played much better on the back nine.”