BLUFFTON – The element of surprise disappeared long ago for Dillon Klein in the qualifying round of the Lima City Men’s Golf Championship.
Klein, a Tiffin University golfer from Delphos, shot a 70 on Tuesday at the Bluffton Golf Club to earn medalist honors in the championship flight for the second year in a row.
Last year, he opened with a 65. Two years ago, he tied for second in the qualifying round.
Even with that track record of success, Klein had some reason for concern because he had not had great success at Bluffton before Tuesday.
“Traditionally I never played well here. I never played well here in high school. But I kind of found it today and got it going for a while,” Klein said.
“I played OK. I found myself making birdies here and there but then I would make a bogey right after I made a birdie. I putted the ball real well. I’ve been putting it pretty well the last couple weeks,” he said.
“I kind of grinded it out, didn’t make any big numbers and kept doubles off the card.”
Phil Trueblood, the 2011 city champion, and Michael Franks both shot 72 in the championship flight. Two-time champion Todd Burkholder and Brock Howe shot 73 and Joe Whittaker, another two-time champion, and Randy Stocke had 74s.
Franks nearly didn’t make it to the tournament after losing his footing and falling flat on his back while playing sand volleyball Sunday night.
“I was up by the net and the ball goes over my head, so I go up and reach back. I hit it and as I was coming down, my legs came out from under me and I landed right on my tailbone,” he said.
“I almost thought I was going to have to withdraw. But a couple of Ibuprofens will help you out. I didn’t know if I could play until I went to the range and hit a couple balls. I haven’t really played well in the qualifying in the city and it felt good to do it.”
A challenging set-up at Bluffton and some strong wind gusts helped keep everyone’s score over par except Klein, Trueblood and Franks.
“The greens are tough here, they’re tough to read, there are a lot of undulations and they stick the pins in some pretty brutal positions,” Klein said.
Burkholder said, “It was mentally challenging. It was the wind, more than anything. It felt like we were out there all day.”
Klein said the wind “definitely played a role in some spots.”
“No. 17 was dead into the wind. It’s 170 yards and it was playing 190 today. My biggest thing with the wind is the ball flight. You have to let it ride the wind some holes and get it under the wind on other holes.”
Franks said, “The wind wasn’t too bad. But once we got to the back it was probably pushing 20 miles and hour.
“It affects you. When the wind picks up five miles an hour you have to add or take away a club. When it picked up 10 miles an hour sometimes instead of hitting a 6-iron I was hitting a 3-iron into the wind and then hit a pitching wedge with the wind from 160 yards out,” he said.
In the senior championship qualifying at Bluffton, Tim Windau and Paul Masters had the low rounds at 74. Matt McGraw and Pete Hubbell each shot 79.
Bob Hollar’s 72 was the low round in the super seniors flight.