Belton 17-year-old Dalton Hankamer finished second of 119 contestants in the 88th Texas State Junior Golf Championship on Friday.
The three-day tournament was played at Horseshoe Bay’s Ram Rock Course.
“It was an awesome experience,” Hankamer said. “I really enjoyed playing Ram Rock which is the No. 1 ranked course in Texas. This course really tests your game.”
By the end of Day 1, Wednesday, Hankamer was clearly showing he could master that test. He fired a sizzling 68 and led the entire field.
“The putts were dropping for me on that day,” Hankamer said. “It was just one of those magical putting days.”
Hankamer had five birdies on Day 1 and sunk a 25-footer to save par.
“I felt I was hitting off the tee strong, too,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a long course but most holes are dog-leg lefts so you have to hit those drives long. I used my 3 and 5 woods most of the time.”
On Thursday, Round 2, Hankamer shot a 1-over 73, and still led the field.
“I was fine with the 73,” he said. “I actually hit the ball better the second day than the first day. I just had more putts.”
On Friday, Hankamer was 2-under par on the front-9. He ended with a 74 which put him in a tournament playoff with Houston native and University of Houston-commit Zach Tracy. On the first playoff hole, Hankamer smashed his drive straight down the middle. Tracy’s drive went wide but hit a tree and bounced back in bounds. Both ended with a par.
Hankamer and Tracy each ended up in bunkers on the second playoff hole. Tracy’s bunker was closer to the hole and he hit his sand shot to within a foot of the cup. Hankamer needed a 25-footer for par.
“I saw he had a tap-in for his par, so I went for it,” Hankamer said. “I hit it the right speed but missed it low.”
Many of the competitors in the tournament have already committed to a D-I school. Hankamer has talked to quite a few top golf schools but has yet to make his collegiate decision.
This spring, as a sophomore, Hankamer helped lead Salado High to a team state championship. As an individual, Hankamer finished third in the state.
This fall, Hankamer will be transferring to Belton High in order to take part in the Texas Biomedical Institute program.
As for getting prepared for the 2015 high school season, Hankamer said, “I’ll just try and keep playing in tournaments because tournament experience is really everything. You want to be in an every-shot-counts frame of mind by the time the spring season rolls around.”
As for his 2015 spring goals, Hankamer said, “I’d like to make it to state as a team with Belton — and I’d also like to win state as an individual.”
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com