Temple Christian’s Lincoln Waters is all smiles this week.
That is because the Pioneer senior has achieved his goal of qualifying for the state tournament after shooting a 75 to win the district individual title in golf.
Waters admits he was unsure of how he was going to do at districts after having a rocky sectional where he carded an 84.
“I came into the (district) tournament as not as confident as I should have been but no I did not think I would be the medalist,” Waters said.
Waters said it was a combination of keeping the ball in the fairway, avoiding sand traps and two-putting when he got on the green.
“I have been struggling with my putting so that was a big thing so I put a lot of time into that and they just started dropping,” Waters said.
Waters’ journey to Columbus began back when he was in the eighth grade. Under the tutelage of his grandfather, Peter Doseck, Waters began to take the game seriously and learn the etiquette and nuances of the game.
Waters said having his grandfather as his mentor is beneficial on and off the course.
“My grandpa is one of my biggest influences in life in general and with my religion and belief and also on the golf course,” Waters said. “He taught me everything. How to hit a golf ball. How to drive a golf cart. How to fix a divot. How to mark your ball.”
With the foundation set by his grandfather, Waters’ game continued to improve and soon he was on the Pioneer golf team.
In his freshman year, Waters was a member of a good team, consisting of all seniors, that made districts. However, the Pioneers missed out advancing to state by a stroke.
This would be the last time Waters played with a team. Due to the lack of numbers, Waters has golfed solo the past three years. Without a team, Waters’ chances to play in tournaments was limited because of rules prohibiting individuals playing in most of the meets and he participates in five to six tournaments a year.
“It would have been nice to have a team and the team concept is really fun and the friendships you make, and my freshman year it was a blast but this solo ride is a little more pressure and I like the pressure and it helps me play personally so I don’t mind it,” Waters said.
Waters joked that he is the best and the worst player on the team.
McPheron added that one of the benefits of not having a team is that the two can work one-on-one on areas of improvement.
Waters, who likes to play quickly when he plays a round solo andadmits it is adjustment to have to wait and slow down his pace when he competing in tournaments.
Despite not having teammates, Waters, under the guidance of his grandfather and Pioneer head coach BJ McPheron, worked on his game throughout his high school years and this season, everything seems to come together culminating with him shooting a 75 at districts to share medalist honors and the opportunity to go to Columbus.
“He is committed in the offseason and plays a lot of golf,” McPheron said. “His grandfather is a big part of that and has kept him involved in that so his grandfather deserves a lot of credit for that. A lot of it has been his work on his own time and this year it has come all together and I am proud of him.”
McPheron adds that Waters has refined his golf swing and this year and he has been getting better distance and he has shored up his short game that has been an issue for him in the past.
Evidence of his maturity on the course came at districts where McPheron said Waters slowed down and made some right decisions in and around the green to minimize those strokes on the always challenging holes at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green where districts were played.
“He did that at Stone Ridge in particular. Those strokes can turn an 80 into a 75 like it did up there,” McPheron said.
Because he does not play as much as his fellow competitors during the season some might have thought Waters winning the districts was a surprise but McPheron said his game was always good enough to make it if he could handle the inevitable errant shot or putt.
“We just needed to minimize the damage when those stray shots happen which he did a great job of,” McPheron said. “He did a great job of calming down and processing the shots when he got out of position. I think on that day he had one three putt and then on the fifth hole he chipped in for birdie.”
McPheron added that once Waters got to one under he got into a positive mindset and forged his way to a 75. Interestingly enough, the score could have been lower but he double-bogeyed 18.
To add to his confidence was the support of his family following him hole to hole and offering support something McPheron said he feeds off when playing the rollercoaster ride that is 18 holes.
Waters, who is battling a wrist injury, has been taking it a bit easy this week and primarily focusing on chipping and putting. Early in the season, he hurt his shoulder and has that worked its way down to his elbow and wrist that caused him to miss some tournaments during the year.
Waters and McPheron head to Columbus Thursday to preview and walk the course. The two did the same prior to playing Stone Ridge and McPheron said that was beneficial.
“I am thinking 160 in two days is a nice score if he can shoot it,” said McPheron about his expectations for Waters. “The reason I say that is when we first came into the Ohio High School Association Eric Moeller who was the first player to make it to state and we haven’t had one since until Lincoln and Eric shot one 160 and so he set the standard.”
McPheron added that he is looking for Waters to have two solid days of golf and keep it around the 160 range.
“He is definitely capable of doing that but the competition is more stiff and the course is harder so all those things are combined but if he can do what he did last week and prepare the best possible way he deserves the opportunity to have this his senior year.”
Waters admits he his nervous going into state.
“I am very nervous,” Waters said. “Pride isn’t even up there. I am so excited I can’t even think about being prideful. Thank God for the humility there. I am stoked. I am so excited and if you could see me I have the biggest smile on my face right now. I just didn’t see it coming. All glory to God.”