NORMAL — Draining putts did more than keep Madison Humke and Joe Burke afloat as both grabbed first-round leads in their respective college divisions of the 17th annual State Farm Youth Classic at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State on Tuesday.
A 17-year-old from Chatham Glenwood High School, Humke shot a 1-over-par 73 in the women’s age 18-22 field to build a four-shot lead over Illinois State’s Morgan Savage heading into Wednesday’s final round of the tourney.
Burke, a 20-year-old from Macomb, fired a 1-under 70 to take a two-shot lead over Quincy’s Drew Eaton in the tourney organized by the Bloomington-Normal Area Sports Commission.
Women: “I was putting really good, especially on the back nine,” said Humke, who had five birdies, including four on the back nine. “I was hitting my driver really good.”
Humke, who is playing in her eighth tournament of the year, hopes to clean up her iron shots on Wednesday even though her 73 was one stroke under her previous best on this course. A key shot was her 30-foot birdie putt on No. 10.
“I actually hit it kind of fast so I was hoping it would hit the hole,” said Humke, who estimated the ball would have rolled five or six feet past if it hadn’t gone in.
Humke and Savage, who have the same swing coach in Russ Apgar, played in the same threesome. Humke enjoyed playing with someone she knew.
“It definitely makes it more relaxed and more fun,” she said.
Savage’s round featured two birdies, including a 25-footer on No. 13. On the fourth hole, she came within 10 inches of notching her first hole-in-one.
“It was the closest I’ve ever been,” said Savage, a 20-year-old Rochester native whose career best at Weibring is 74. “I hope I can break it tomorrow.”
The only other woman under 80 was Illinois State’s Caitlin Sims of Athens, who shot 79. A year ago, she finished second.
“It was my first competitive round back after conference,” Sims said. “I’m not upset, but I’m not happy with it, either. It kind of shows me where I’m at and that I definitely need a lot more practice, which I kind of knew coming in.”
Moline's Megan Medinger of Bradley is third at 78.
Men: Burke’s 70 came via six birdies and five bogeys.
“I feel like it could have been better,” said the Western Illinois golfer. “I hit a lot of good wedges and good iron shots, and that’s what led to my success.”
Burke had two bogeys in his first three holes, but got comfortable after a fourth-hole birdie.
“After that, it was smooth sailing from there,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there (Wednesday) and try to make a lot of pars and cut down on some of the bogeys and keep the birdies up.”
A highlight of Burke’s round was a 20-foot par putt on No. 11.
“I really started feeling good on the greens after that,” he said. “My best approach shot was on No. 4. I hit a little punch 6-iron to about three feet and made the putt.”
The second-place Eaton, a 19-year-old who plays for Central Missouri, notched four birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey for his 72.
“I got off to a pretty shaky start,” he said. “I was 3-over after five. I settled down with a few birdies and then kind of scraped it in coming in.”
Eaton gave himself a "B" grade for mental toughness.
“I got a little upset on a few shots today where I probably shouldn’t have been,” he said. “I was pretty proud of myself for how I bounced back. After the first five holes I could have put my head down and quit, and then I made four birdies in six holes.”
Sharing third at 73 are LeRoy’s Caleb Poindexter and Palmyra’s Tyler Woods. Poindexter only putted eight times the first eight holes.
“I just need to get my ball striking better,” said the Olivet Nazarene recruit.
Woods missed a few short putts, but got a boost when a 25-foot birdie try fell at No. 10.
“Overall, it was a good day,” said Woods, whose final-round strategy is to “keep it in the fairway and miss on the right side of the pins.”