Posted Online: Oct. 07, 2012, 9:24 pm

Senior golfers ready for `last-chance' sectional pressure

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

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Photo: Gary Krambeck
Alleman's Dan Cutkomp keeps an eye on his shot at last year's Western Big 6 Conference boys' golf meet.
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Photo: John Greenwood
Dan Cutkomp
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Photo: Todd Welvaert
Rockridge golfer Dylan Daxon finishes his drive on the seventh hole in their triangular match against Sherrard and Rock Island Thursday, August 16, 2012, at Pinnacle Country Club in Milan.
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Dylan Daxon, Rockridge golf
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Photo: Matt Veto
Will Wallace, Moline golf
Alleman's Dan Cutkomp and Rockridge's Dylan Daxon are linked by their love of golf.

So the friends talk often about the game. This fall, when parting, their goodbyes have been punctuated by positive thoughts.

"We always end by telling each other, `See you at state,''' Cutkomp said. "We're hoping to make dinner plans this weekend.''

The two high school seniors are among the 22 local individuals and 11 area teams teeing off today in boys' and girls' sectional action around Illinois, trying to reach this weekend's state golf meets.

Cutkomp is one of three Pioneers playing in Class 2A boys' action at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Champaign.

Daxon and his fellow Rockets are in 1A boys' play at Petersburg's Shambolee Golf Course.

There also are sectionals today involving local 3A boys, AA girls and Class A girls.

"It means a lot to get this far,'' said Cutkomp, a sectional qualifier all four of his years in high school.

"But it means more to me this year than last year, when I was alone, because I have teammates with me this time. I'm a senior and this is my last chance. We made state as a team when I was a freshman, and I've been trying to get back there since then.''

Daxon has played at state the last two seasons, tying for third last October.

But even though Daxon repeated as a regional champ last week, leading the Rockets to a school-record score and their first regional title, the senior knows a return to state today is not a given.

"It's a lot easier said than done,'' Daxon said. "We still have to play golf like I know we can.

"We have the potential to go to state without a problem if we go down to Petersburg and play better than we played there earlier this year. Another 326, I don't think, is going to get out. But I also know every single one of us can take five shots off our score.''

The trick is dealing with the sectional pressure, which mounts as a last-chance prospect for seniors such as Cutkomp, Daxon and Will Wallace, the top gun for Moline's team in 3A action at Pekin.

"We just have to play one shot at a time,'' said Wallace, a 3-time sectional qualifier looking for his first trip to state.

"I know it's a cliche, but it's wild how true it is. You can't let a bad hole or a bad shot get you down. I deal with (the pressure) by singing to myself on the course. I don't like to talk much to the competition. I like to stay in the zone. But I will talk when I'm trying to get over something bad and trying to refocus.''

Cutomp finally got that message, he said, helping Alleman to a state runner-up finish in baseball last spring.

"It's taken me three years to learn how to overcome the nervousness,'' Cutkomp said. "Baseball helps because it's a failure game, too. Something goes wrong? Keep fighting. Keep moving forward.''

And, maybe, we'll see you this weekend, Daxon would say.