Honored as the 2016 Gateway PGA Junior Player of the Year and a two-time Belleville News-Democrat high school player of the year, Dylan Davidson of Belleville found himself in a slump earlier this summer.
Known for his length off the tee — averaging 290-300 yards — Davidson watched in disbelief as his normally razor-sharp accuracy left him and his scores ballooned.
“I kept hooking the ball off the tee,” he said. “I couldn’t keep it in play and I just didn’t score very well. It was very frustrating.”
After working out the kinks with PGA teaching professional Dan Polites, Davidson got his game back on track. After winning tournaments at St. Clair Country Club in Belleville and Lake Forest Country Club in Lake St. Louis, Mo., Davidson captured the Gateway PGA Tour Championship earlier this week at Winghaven Country Club in O’Fallon, Mo.
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With rounds of 72 and 73, Davidson finished with a 36-hole total of 1-over par 145 to edge St. Louis players Zach Walsh and Maxwell Kreikmeier by one stroke.
Although not a contender to repeat as the Gateway Junior Player of the Year after playing in just five events this summer, Davidson’s win should give him a boost for the rest of the season and heading into his senior year at Althoff next month.
“What we did was slow down my club speed a little bit and changed the angle and amount of pressure on my grip with the driver,” Davidson said about his lesson with Polites.
“It’s been a pretty good summer. I’ve been working on my putting and being more consistent in making the putts from 10-12 feet. I’m confident with my irons. I feel that from 150-180 yards out that I can consistently hit it within 12-15 feet of the pin.”
I knew with the way I was playing that I had a good chance to win the tournament. It was a good two days on a very good golf course.
Davidson started first round play at Winghaven with three birdies on his first nine holes and was off and running. Not even a triple bogey on his second hole of the second round could slow down Davidson, who responded with a 1-under par 35 on his final nine holes to shoot 73 and clinch the one-stroke win.
“After shooting even par (72) the first day, I had a one shot lead going into the second round. I felt good about my chances,” Davidson said. “I started the second round birdie, triple bogey, birdie and was able to shoot 38on the front side. I was pleased with that.
“I knew with the way I was playing that I had a good chance to win the tournament. It was a good two days on a very good golf course.”
Davidson, 17, will continue to play tournaments for the next three weeks before the high school season begins in late August. Expected to be one of the leaders on a young team which includes sophomore and reigning South Seven Conference champion Jack Bruening and heralded freshman Avery Irwin, Davidson should be one of the best Class 2A players in the state in 2017.
Davidson tied for 14th at the Class 2A State Tournament last year. The state finals are annually at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.
“I wish the (high school) state tournament was at the beginning of the year instead of the end. I’m hitting the ball very well and playing with a lot of confidence,” Davidson said. “I feel good about my chances. My goal is to win the state championship.”