Tuesday’s finish to the Ichabod Golf Invitational could have easily been just as awkward for Blake Allen and Jared Burns as it was dramatic.
The Washburn teammates and close friends were pitted against each other in a playoff for the individual title after both players scored even-par 213s after three rounds at Topeka Country Club.
“Playing your teammate, it feels a little bit different but you have to remind yourself that you’re going out there to beat him as another opponent,” Allen said. “That’s what both of us were doing. If I was soft on him, he was going to beat me. And if he was soft on me, I was going to beat him, too.
“The only way to make it a good playoff is to fight as hard you can.”
Allen and Burns ended up bringing out the best in each other to make for a compelling three playoff holes.
After both made par on the first two holes, Allen closed it out on No. 10 to claim his first collegiate title. Burns narrowly missed a 50-foot putt for par before Allen ended it by sinking a 20-foot birdie.
“It was a little bit downhill. I had a similar putt earlier on that hole,” Allen said. “I just kind of felt like it was going to break a little bit right off the back hill and then maybe straighten out toward the end, which it did. I rolled it with good pace.”
Burns was inches away from winning the playoff on both the first and second holes, seeing two birdie attempts lip out.
“He’s kind of known for dropping bombs,” Allen said. “Forty-footers are just like three footers. Every putt he had, I was kind of biting my fingernails, thinking, ‘Oh, God, this could go in the hole.’ ”
Burns said he came away from the playoff satisfied with his performance.
“As long I’m out there hitting the greens and making good strokes on the putts, I know I’m giving myself a chance,” Burns added. “I was really positive seeing each of those putts. I had a really good mindset out there and had a lot of fun, honestly. It was just a great experience.”
He said he tried not to overthink the fact he was playing Allen in the playoff.
“I’m with Blake everyday and spend so much time at his house,” Burns said. “I’m so close to him that it kind of felt like we were just out there playing golf and I didn’t even realize I was in a playoff. Obviously I knew I was, but I was trying to kind of bank on our friendship to help me relax a little bit. I was like, ‘This is my best friend, I’m going to be super proud if he wins and he’s going to be proud of me if I win.’ ”
Allen entered Tuesday’s final round with a one-shot lead before shooting a 76 while Burns came up with a 72 to force the playoff.
“They had a good, solid tournament all the way through,” Washburn coach Jeff Stromgren said. “I know both of them had a couple holes they’d like to have back, but that’s golf. Everybody’s going to have a bad hole every once in a while and you have to shake it off. Blake got off to a shaky start — four over after his first two. And then Jared ended up three over on his last three. It was good to see them compete, both being sophomores.”
Allen, a Shawnee Mission Northwest product, said he was aided by his familiarity with the course.
“It feels almost like I’m at home to play and win a golf tournament out here,” Allen said. “The greens are very tricky. I was playing with a guy in the first round, and he’s a great player, and he couldn’t figure out the greens, and it’s just because there’s subtle breaks that nobody can see. Honestly, the first day, Carson Roberts, our GA, he was walking with me and helping me read the greens. He helped me make a lot of putts the first day.”
Washburn, which took a one-shot lead into the final round, finished third in the team standings with an 880, eight shots behind Central Oklahoma and Lindenwood, which won the team title in a tiebreaker.
Brock Falley finished tied for 31st with a 227, Brooks Brown tied for 47th at 231 and Turner Wintz tied for 73rd at 238 for the Ichabods.
“Overall, we played well,” Stromgren said. “We just had a couple holes that jumped up and bit us today. We had a triple bogey and three doubles in the last four holes. We were right there and had our chance, just didn’t quite get it done.”
It was the last tournament of the fall for the Ichabods, who will return to action March 5-6 in the Las Vegas Desert Classic.
“We’ve put ourselves in good shape, regional wise,” Stromgren said. “You’ve got to be in the top 10 out of 40 teams in our region. Conference wise, we put ourselves in a good spot there, too. We finished second in the first point getter at Central Missouri and we finished third here. We’ve got two more tournaments for the MIAA championship. We’re right there.”
“I think our best golf can beat anybody’s golf,” Allen said.
Lindenwood 293-289-290–872, Central Oklahoma 284-297-291–872, Washburn 292-288-300–880, Winona State 299-293-299–891, Central Missouri 297-297-302–896, Missouri Western 300-298-311–909, Southwest Baptist 311-298-300–909, Northeastern State 301-294-315–910, Rockhurst 303-295-313–911, St. Cloud State 296-307-312–915, Missouri Southern 304-309-303–916, Upper Iowa 305-308-306–919, Minot State 309-307-304–920, Nebraska-Kearney 300-311-316–927, Concordia St. Paul 312-300-315–927, Fort Hays State 314-308-306–928, Lincoln 314-320-319–953.
Top individual placers
1. *Allen, Washburn, 69-68-76–880; 2. Burns. 70-71-72–213; 3. Jackson, UCO, 67-71-76–214; T4. Lindgren 70-71-74–215; T4. Rasinski, CSP, 75-68-72–215.
*Won in playoff
Other Washburn scores
T31. Falley 77-75-75–227; T47. T47. Brown 76-74-81–231; T73. Wintz, 79-82-77–238.
WU players competing as individuals
T31. Trebilcock, 74-77-76–227; T35. Mendez, 75-73-81–228; T42. Coble, 79-76-74–229. T47. Massey, 78-74-79–231; T57. C. Allen, 76-79-77–232; 70. Kang 80-76-80–236; T73. Spears 79-78-84–241; T86. Amarilla, 77-79-86–242.