DIXON – The first time that Griffin Kozeal played in a meet at Timber Creek Golf Course, he was a freshman who shot a 71.
On Monday, he was back as the No. 1 golfer for the Amboy Clippers. The junior played like it too.
Kozeal shot a 4-over-par 40, earning medalist honors. He had to fend off Dixon's Ryan Dixon, who birdied the final two holes to finish at 41.
"I was getting nervous because I know Ryan is a really good golfer," Kozeal said. "He made those two birdies, and I didn't know if I would hold on."
Dixon won the meet by a stroke, 196-197, but coach Pat Lessner feels that Kozeal is a perfect example for many of his players that suited up on Monday for the first time.
"We had a lot of kids, particularly the freshmen, that had never played in a meet before today," Lessner said. "They have the jitters, and they have to learn the game. They have to learn to be patient.
"You look at Griffin and the strides he's made in 2 years. He deserves the credit. He's done the right things. He's taken the lessons, and he's played in a lot of tournaments during the summer. You're going to see that he's medalist at a lot of meets and posting some solid scores."
Kozeal used his short game to hold off Ryan Dixon. It made up for some struggles off the tee.
"I had some really nice chip shots, and I played pretty well on the greens," Kozeal said. "I wasn't hitting off the tees super awesome."
Like Kozeal, Dixon struggled off the tee early in the meet. He didn't get comfortable until reaching hole No. 1, which was the fifth hole played by the top flight group.
"I really felt nervous right before stepping up to the first tee," Dixon said. "I didn't start hitting off the tee until I got to No. 1."
"It's not always about how you start," Lessner said. "It's about how you finish. You can't allow a bad start ruin the whole round."
Dixon had the highlight of the round on his final hole, the 172-yard par 3, No. 5.
His drive put him on the front of the green, about 20 feet from the pin. The hole was located on the other side of the green and on an incline.
Dixon sized it up and sank the putt for a birdie.
"At that point there wasn't any pressure," Dixon said. "I wasn't worried about making it so I lined up the shot.
"It was a great way to end the round. You always want to end on a high note, and I did that today."
Amboy's other scoring players were Logan Thake (51), Ryan Lucas (53) and Tracer Mills (53).
"We don't have any seniors, but we've all played the last couple years," Kozeal said. "We know we're going to get better from here."
Dixon's other top scores were Austin Thomas (51), Jacob Bonnell (51) and Cord Schroeder (53).
AFC had a single golfer in Graye Freeman, who shot a 57.