June 7, 2024 at 7:05 p.m.

Tough finish

Caleb DeRome’s career comes to an end with an 88 at regional meet
Caleb DeRome, a senior at Jay County High School, hits out of the bunker on the 18th hole at The Players Club on Thursday afternoon during the IHSAA Regional 4 meet hosted by Muncie Central. DeRome finished tied for 59 with 88 strokes and came up 14 short of a state berth. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)
Caleb DeRome, a senior at Jay County High School, hits out of the bunker on the 18th hole at The Players Club on Thursday afternoon during the IHSAA Regional 4 meet hosted by Muncie Central. DeRome finished tied for 59 with 88 strokes and came up 14 short of a state berth. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)

YORKTOWN — Patriots’ coach Dave Haines has often raved about the mental focus and maturity of Caleb DeRome.

That attitude came into play on the back nine after a slow start on the front. Unfortunately for the senior, it wasn’t enough to achieve his goal of breaking 80.

Jay County High School’s Caleb DeRome saw his golf career come to an end on Thursday at the IHSAA Regional 4 meet at The Players Club hosted by Muncie Central as he shot an 88 on the day.

“I didn’t play real good today, so I didn’t feel like I had a chance today,” DeRome said. “I did the same thing last year where I had a 40-something on the front and then I ended up shooting even on the back. I knew I could potentially do that, so I didn’t want to throw in the towel too early.”

DeRome finished in a seven-way tie for 59th place in the field of 89 golfers. Hamilton Southeastern’s No. 5 golfer Dane Starnes finished as the regional medalist with an even 72 strokes to lead the Royals to the top spot with 297 strokes. Also earning berths to Tuesday’s state tournament at Prairie View Golf Club were Noblesville (305) and Fishers (316).

The top three golfers not on teams already advancing earn a spot in the state tournament. DeRome needed to shave off 14 strokes to earn a spot as Pendleton Heights’ Ryan Davis took up the final berth with a 74. Aaron Fulda of Eastbrook and John Lehman of Cathedral accounted for the other two spots, each shooting a 73.

DeRome got off to a slow start on the first three holes. He shot bogeys on the first and third holes and double-bogeyed the second after losing his ball in the tall grass to put him four strokes over par. He bounced back with a par on the 559-yard, par-5 fourth hole before rattling off three more bogeys. All three times he was just off the green in regulation and came up just short on his putts for par.

“The greens were pretty tough today,” DeRome said. “And it’s a long course. 7,000 total yards from the blacks, so it’s hard to get the ball there. …

“I would say it was my long game as a whole. My irons and my drivers weren’t very good today and the putter couldn’t do anything to capitalize on it.”

Haines mentioned DeRome has the ability to handle difficult courses because of his course management, but has recently developed a hook that affected DeRome’s swing throughout the match.

Everything went right for DeRome on the 347-yard, par-4 eighth hole. A strong drive left him in the center of the fairway about 90 yards from the hole. His second shot left him just short of the green, but his chip got him within four feet of the cup. He converted the putt to make par for the second time of the day.

He wound up eight strokes over par on the front nine after a bogey on hole No. 9.

DeRome didn’t get rattled and started to turn things around on the back nine in hopes of staying under 80 strokes.

“He handles the mental aspect of it better than any other player I’ve had so far,” Haines said. “He was (focused and emotionally controlled) at least outwardly. I don’t know what’s going on inwardly but outwardly he was.”

He bogeyed the 10th hole before rattling off four pars over the next five holes. With just three holes remaining, DeRome could only afford nine strokes to reach his goal, which was a birdie average.

He was put in a hole after some trouble on the green on hole No. 16, leaving him with only three strokes before hitting 80 with two holes left. On the 17th, the senior’s drive hooked, causing him to bogey the hole and pushing him to 81 strokes on the match.

DeRome struggled on the 18th as well, ending up in both the water and sand traps before he finished with a triple-bogey to bring him to 88.

As DeRome came off the green of the final hole, Haines pulled him aside to remind him of some of the senior’s accomplishments and to focus on those rather than the negatives of his performance.

Haines only had good things to say about DeRome following the tournament.

“From the time he was a freshman, everyone was speaking highly of him and he did not disappoint,” Haines said. “He’s just been the rock of the team. No matter what anyone else did in a match, I knew he was going to be really close to par and give us a good score.”

This was DeRome’s fourth time competing at the regional and his third-best score. He finished one stroke better than his sophomore year, but was beat out by his junior (79) and freshman (84) performances.

Despite the tough finish, DeRome found positives to hold onto from his time as a Patriot.

“It’s been a great four years,” he said. “I’ve definitely had a lot of good days. … It feels good that I made it four times and I’m definitely going to remember the sectional win for a long time.”

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