Boys Golf: Niles West’s Nate Lee qualifies for state

Updated: October 8, 2012 9:09PM

Nate Lee wasn’t too thrilled with how he scored Monday at the Winnetka Golf Club.

But considering the stakes, the Niles West junior couldn’t help from smiling.

Lee is going to the state tournament for the third season in a row after shooting an 8-over 79 on a cool and windy day at the New Trier Sectional. He made one birdie, but managed to avoid making too many mistakes.

“I didn’t play too well, but I was able to grind it out and put up a good enough score,” he said. “I definitely played worse than at the regional. I just had to find a way (Monday).”

The state tournament is Friday and Saturday in Bloomington at the Den at Fox Creek Golf Course. Lee’s best performance came last year when he tied for 86th as a sophomore.

“It’s a great feeling to go back,” he said. “When you’re a freshman, you go in and give it your best shot. Then, the expectations rise. I had more pressure on me this year than before.

“I am happy to get there again.”

Lee learned the game from his father Richard, who runs the golf operations for the Skokie Park District. After getting schooled at Weber Park, a par-3 course in Skokie, Lee started playing tournament golf while he was in elementary school.

“My dad is my inspiration,” he said. “We’ve worked a lot on my game together. Of course, we’ve fought, but I know he always has my back.”

Lee, who shot an even-par 70 at Sportsman’s Country Club at last week’s regional tournament, was one of 10 individuals to earn an at-large bid to the state tournament. The cutoff was 81.

Glenbrook North won the team title with 302. New Trier (306) and Loyola (308) also qualified as teams.

New Trier’s Jack Junge, Loyola’s Michael Hultquist and Glenbrook North’s Nick Hardy all tied for first place with 73s. Junge, a sophomore, earned medalist honors with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

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