Saber golfers overcome early trouble at state finals

Manistee Catholic Central junior John Slivka, shown here at the regional tournament on May 30, shot a 76 in the first round of the Division 4 state championship meet in East Lansing on Friday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

Manistee Catholic Central junior John Slivka, shown here at the regional tournament on May 30, shot a 76 in the first round of the Division 4 state championship meet in East Lansing on Friday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

EAST LANSING — The two Manistee Catholic Central golfers had a bit of a rocky start in the first round of the Division 4 State Finals on Friday.

John Slivka bogeyed his first two holes, but then settled in nicely, making par on 12 of the next 13 on his way to a 4-over-par 76 at the Forest Akers East course on the campus of Michigan State University.

Preston Picardat made par on his first hole but then double-bogeyed the next two, finishing with a score of 87.

The two Sabers were paired just two holes apart at the shotgun start, giving MCC coach Denis Meikle the chance to follow both of them closely.

Meikle said that he was happy to see the two of them combine for 20 pars in their 36 holes.

“That’s what we talked about in the practice round: Just keep your pars alive,” Meikle said. “Don’t be too aggressive and end up three-putting a lot, because that’s one of the nemeses for the guys. We worked on the short game a lot.”

Slivka posted bogeys on his 16th and 17th holes of the day, but recovered nicely and gave himself a little emotional boost with a birdie on his final hole of the day.

Meikle said that Slivka’s success had much to do with his putting.

“These greens are a little bigger, faster and more undulated than they’re used to,” Meikle said. “John did a good job with that, he stayed consistent, didn’t get really aggressive. He hit a lot of greens and made a lot of two-putts, and didn’t get himself into a lot of trouble.

“He hit a lot of them that burnt the lips, that could have fallen. (The putt on 18) was a nice one that fell for him.”

Slivka’s 76 put him in a three-way tie for 13th place out of 108 golfers in the Division 4 state tournament, nine shots out of the lead. Suttons Bay’s Thomas Hursey blistered the course, shooting a 67, giving himself a four-shot lead for the individual state championship going into Saturday’s second round.

Picardat had to fight his way out of bunkers on his second and third holes, and took a while to recover mentally.

“He sort of got off his routine after he had a couple of bad holes,” Meikle said. “But he played really well his last several holes, and kind of got back to what we talked about.”

Meikle said that he’d like to see more of that consistency from his two charges in the second and final round today.

“I’d like to see John shoot another score like that,” he said. “That would probably get him a pretty respectable finish. And I’d like to see Preston improve, get down around 80, which he is totally capable of. That would give him a good two-day score.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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