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Frankfort's Pirch shoots 91 at golf regional

LAST ROUND: Frankfort’s Sascha Pirch shot a 91 at Thursday’s Lake Central golf regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in Demotte, missing the cut for the state finals. The foreign-exchange student is returning home to Germany tonight.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Frankfort’s Sascha Pirch shot a 91 at Thursday’s Lake Central regional golf tournament at Sandy Pines Golf Club in Demotte, with some deep bunkers partly to blame for his score that left him outside qualifying for the state finals.

“He experienced some very difficult bunker shots,” Frankfort head coach Mike Kelley said. “One you could barely see his head. The other he had to play away from the hole to get out.”

A photo of that shot shows him in a bunker even with the flag near the top of the green, but Pirch had to shoot toward the bottom of the green as he was right up against a high bunker wall.

Pirch would have needed to shoot 76 to qualify for state. The top three teams at the regional and top five golfers on non-qualifying teams made the cut on the difficult course.

Carmel (291) won the event with Crown Point (320) and Guerin Catholic (321) also qualifying for state. Harrison, which won last week’s West Lafayette sectional that Pirch qualified individually out of, finished just a shot out at 322.

Harrison’s Nic Hoffman shot a 72 to qualify for state as an individual. He tied for the low round with Carmel’s Cole Harris, but Harris won the regional championship in a playoff. Hoffman took second at last week’s sectional with a 73, just ahead of Pirch’s third-place finish with a 74.

Several individual qualifiers from sectionals struggled at Sandy Pines with five shooting over 100, topped by a 125.

Pirch went out solidly shooting just 1-over par on the first four holes, but gave up six strokes to par on the next four including a triple bogey on the seventh hole for a 43 on the front nine. The final five holes pushed up his score including a quadruple bogey on the par-5 15th hole.

Even if Pirch would have qualified for the state finals, he would have been unable to play. The foreign-exchange student from Germany is scheduled to return home this evening after his year in Frankfort.

Along with the bunker issues, Kelley noted Pirch “also had some drives get away and end out of bounds.

“Many of his longer putts were near misses,” he said. “He represented Frankfort well.”

Kelley added that seven of Pirch’s Hot Dog teammates got up to leave at 6:15 a.m. to support him, with Pirch one of the first golfers on the course for the 9 a.m. tournament following a 1 ½ hour drive.

Pirch became the first Hot Dog to qualify for regionals since 2010 with the last Clinton County golfer doing so in 2016 in Rossville’s Austin Treece. He was also the last county golfer to place at sectional since Clinton Prairie’s Grant Doyle in 2013.

“It will be one of those things that we look back on and say that it was Sascha who led the Hot Dogs and qualified for the regional,” Kelley said before Thursday’s tournament. “No matter what happens up there he’s going to walk away with the attitude that I did my best because that’s the way Sascha is.”