sports 5 days ago

Struggle to success: Williams returns to golf state

Mt. Vernon Register-News, Ill. — Paul Hines Mt. Vernon Register-News, Ill.

Oct. 12--MT. VERNON -- A season ago golfer Zach Williams struggled with his swing.

He was in the midst of a change his junior season, but by the end of the year he'd lost confidence. He couldn't wait for the season to end.

"I was thinking about just almost just quitting that year," Williams said. "I really didn't want to go and play sectional. I knew I really wasn't going to make it, just having that mindset of you're not going to make it. I had no idea where the ball was going to go.

"It was just a rough year."

Williams advanced to state his sophomore season. He was trying to make a second straight appearance in Normal but was eliminated in the sectional his junior season.

"Sometimes you can get off just a little bit, and it can wack you out for a while," Mt. Vernon boys golf coach Quinn McClure said.

The Mt. Vernon senior said he never considered reverting back to his old swing. He instead spent the past offseason trying to perfect the new approach.

The persistence and practice paid dividends this spring. Williams has been a force on the links for the Rams racking up numerous medalist honors throughout the season. The success culminated with back-to-back individual titles at the 2A Carbondale regional and Salem sectional in consecutive weeks. The latter on Monday helped him qualify for the state finals. He shot a 70 at both events.

"They always say you really have to struggle before you succeed, and that's really what last year, this year are," Williams said. "I went through a year of struggle to a year of success. That's just awesome to see. And that truly is a blessing to get to play this well my senior year."

The Rams golfer said he views the returned trip to the state competition as a blessing.

"It's tough with golf just because it's very easy to have a bad day, and you really can't have a bad day at sectionals," Williams said.

Williams will compete in the 2A state finals on Friday and Saturday. The rounds are preceded by a practice event on Thursday morning. Williams along with the other 111 golfers will traverse the Weibring Golf Course, trying to familiarize themselves with the terrain. As a sophomore, Williams tied for 43rd overall. He shot rounds of 81 and 84.

That season Williams said he was just happy to be at state and experience the event. This time he wants to make more of an impact.

"And I think we can do something up there this year, not like sophomore year where just mainly went up there to see what it's like and get a feel for it," Williams said. "I think we can really do something up there and maybe go up there and place."

Weather could play a factor for the tournament. Normal experienced rain on Tuesday. More could fall on Saturday after a mild Friday. McClure said the greens that typically play fast could be slower due to the moisture.

"It's ever changing," McClure said. "You have to adapt to conditions and different courses."

Williams opens the state tournament with a 10:27 a.m. Friday morning tee time.

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