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REPEAT CHAMP Bieber wins second state golf crown
Bieber wins second state golf crown
By TONY LANGE
The key in any sport is to perform best when it matters the most.
Despite not winning sectionals or districts, Gilmour Academy's Andrew Bieber had a game plan, and he stuck with it en route to his second consecutive state golf title last Saturday during the Division III championships at Northstar Golf Resort in Sunbury.
His game plan for states started about 12 months ago, when college recruiting really picked up, Bieber said.
"There's junior golf, amateur and college golf, and then there's professional golf, and you kind of need to perform well at the end of each stage to make it to the next stage," he said. "So 12 months ago is when I really realized that I have to tune it up or that jump is going to be difficult to make."
Successfully defending his state title would be key to making the college transition, said Bieber, who plans to sign his letter of intent with Duke University in November.
In doing so, he became one of 14 Ohio golfers to win back-to-back titles and joins the elite company of Jack Nicklaus, Ben Curtis and former teammate Alex Andrews, who won in 2009 and 2010.
"My plan was to peak at the right time," Bieber said. "So I struggled a little bit throughout the season, and I realized I was going to have to with the changes I made mentally and physically in my swing. But when it came down to it, I was ready at the right time.
"There's a lot of different things said, but, in the end, I had a game plan, and I stuck with it, and it worked."
While few can attest to the pressure and emotions that come along with defending a state title, the fact that Bieber came down with laryngitis right before the big dance may or may not have added to that stress.
He wasn't able to talk the entire tournament and had to communicate with other players and coaches through hand gestures and a notepad, he said.
"I'm not quite sure that it was a bad thing. It might have kind of been a gift in the sky," Bieber said. "Going into the tournament, there's a lot of thinking the few days before. It's difficult to describe the emotions of trying to defend the title. So having that as something to kind of take my focus off all that pressure was almost helpful in a way."
During the two-day, 36-hole tournament, Bieber was tied for first place at one above par with his 73-stroke round after the first day's play as he shot five birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys.
Being the leader after day one is good and bad in its own ways, he said.
"You always see guys on the tour faltering when they have the lead. The guy with the early lead almost never ends up winning the tournament," Bieber said. "But at the same point, if you're not leading, then there's ground to make up. I just had to stay on the offense. The minute you play on the defensive and start trying to protect something, that's when you're going to lose it.
"So it was a position I've been in many times before, and I knew what to do. You're fighting much more than just your opponent out there. You're fighting yourself."
The two holes Bieber double bogeyed on day one, he birdied and parred on day two.
During multiple-day tournaments, it's crucial to reflect back on the bogey holes and have a precise game plan to attack those pins the next day, he said.
"I knew the second day that I couldn't afford to have anything more than a bogey," Bieber said. "I looked at the holes that I messed up on the first day, and I came up with a game plan in my mind about how I was going to play those two holes to avoid the big numbers, because that was the key for me. And I was able to execute on those plans really well, so I'm definitely proud of that."
Shooting a 71-stroke round the second day, he shot three birdies and just two bogeys for the state title.
He beat his nearest competitor by seven strokes and broke the record for the lowest score for the Division III tournament held at North Star - 144 strokes. That bested the previous record of 145 strokes, which was held by his former teammate Andrews.
As a result, Gilmour also is in the record books as the only school to have four consecutive years of an individual champion.
Bieber said he is really good friends with Andrews and couldn't end his high school career letting Andrews have a leg up on him.
"God knows he'd never let me live that down, so I wanted to beat it," Bieber said. "This was just a nice way to end it all."
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