IN THE SPOTLIGHT
As Joey Harrigan walked to the third hole of the Central Suburban League North Tournament at Glencoe Golf Club last week, he must have had 10 things on his mind.
Ten strokes, actually.
It had taken the Highland Park High School senior that many to complete the par-five second hole on Sept. 27.
An 8 on a hole in golf is called “a snowman”.
Far from perfect.
“I told myself, ‘You’re better than that,’ ” Harrigan recalls. “So, as I’m about to hit my tee shot [at No. 3, a par four], I’m thinking about what I need to do to recover.
“I became more aggressive; I attacked that pin and continued to attack pins for the rest of my round. I had some making up to do, and I was all riled up.”
Harrigan — an integral member of the Giants’ eighth-place team at the Class 3A state tournament last fall and a team captain this fall — smoked his tee shot about 300 yards with a driver on the hole after that startling 10. Some 40 yards from the green, he then lofted an accurate wedge.
Harrigan then sank a putt — the first of six successful birdie putts in his final 16 holes that day.
From a bumpy 10 to an oh-so-smooth three.
He would finish with a sixth-place score of 76, behind the 75s carded by teammates Josh Zoldan (fourth place) and Jared Grossmann (fifth) and ahead of Giants junior Bradley Goldstein (76, eighth place).
Harrigan’s resplendent recovery nearly overshadowed the best news of the day: Highland Park, with a 5-0 mark in CSL dual action, bettered Glenbrook North by six strokes at the division meet to capture its first overall CSL North championship in eight years.
“I saw something in Joey when he was a freshman,” Giants fourth-year coach Scott Leibfried says of the second-year varsity member. “I saw a lot of talent. As far as the mental side of his game, he has come a long way with that part of his game since then; it’s now one of his strengths. Joey bounces back nicely and quickly after rough shots, after rough holes. His mindset all season has been, ‘Next shot, next shot; move on and focus on the next shot and only the next shot.’ I’m proud of the way he’s playing, especially [throughout September].
“Joey,” the coach adds, “has been on fire.”
Some of the blistering results:
Harrigan shot a fourth-place 72 at the Buffalo Grove Invitational on Sept. 2.
Harrigan needed only 32 strokes to bag medalist honors in a nine-hole dual with Maine East at Park Ridge Country Club on Sept. 11. He eagled a hole after his tee shot had nestled near a cluster of trees. His unforgettable shot on that hole zipped under a tree and hooked around another tree.
In the 26-team Wheeling Wildcat Invite at Countryside Golf Club in Mundelein, HP (297) took runner-up honors to Stevenson (295) behind Harrigan’s 1-over 73 (seventh place) on Sept. 16. Teammate Max Golding also shot a 73.
In a quad held at Northmoor Golf Course in Highland Park (with perennial powers Lake Forest High School, New Trier and Loyola Academy), Harrigan carded a 34 — another medalist score — to highlight the Giants’ victory on Sept. 19.
And in a nine-hole, five-team event at Lake Shore Country Club in Glencoe on Sept. 25, Harrigan and New Trier’s Max Weber shared medalist honors with 36s.
“I recently found my swing, and I guess I’ve been able to shoot some pretty good rounds for my team,” Harrigan says modestly. “I’ve always liked playing different courses and getting the opportunities to hit different shots, to shape different shots.”
Nothing would thrill Harrigan more this season than to return to the Class 3A state tournament as a member of a qualifying team. He and Grossmann, a freshman last fall, each finished with a two-day total of 157 at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington at the 2016 state meet, ranking them in a tie for second among teammates behind Golding’s 155 (76-79).
“Joey is nearing the end of a very nice career here at Highland Park,” Leibfried says. “I’m confident he’ll be remembered as a player who had an impact in our program.”
The other serious sport in Harrigan’s life is chess. The young man who wants nothing to do with snap hooks knows all there is to know about rooks. Harrigan was a kindergartner when a gentleman at a daycare center introduced him to the game of chess.
“He was a patient teacher,” remembers Harrigan, who intends to major in engineering in college.
Harrigan competed for the HPHS chess team at the past three Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state chess tournaments. The school’s 2015-16 squad, in the winter of his sophomore year, placed fourth at state under Giants coach Pablo Alvarez at the Peoria Civic Center.
“You need patience in chess, because most matches last two hours,” Harrigan says.
You must also be blessed with intelligence and a sharp memory and problem-solving skills if you’re interested in succeeding in chess.
Good mate Joey Harrigan has all of the above.
Harrigan sat for more than five hours during a chess match in a tournament a couple of years ago.
He won it.
Par for the course.
Notable: Highland Park High School’s boys golf team took first place (301) in the Class 3A Fremd Regional at Hilldale Golf Club in Hoffman Estates on Oct. 3. Joey Harrigan was the medalist (71). HP had three other players shoot 78 or better: senior Josh Zoldan (75, 4th), junior Max Golding (77) and senior Charlie Ezgur (78). Junior Bradley Goldstein came in with an 90. HP, Deerfield (314) and Stevenson (315) also advanced to the Warren Sectional at Bittersweet Golf Course in Gurnee on Oct. 9. … Giants boys golf coach Scott Leibfried, after his squad won the program’s first Central Suburban League North Championship in eight years last week in Glencoe: “Our guys were happy and excited about claiming the trophy, but they weren’t overly excited, which was nice. They had other big meets in mind.”