Familiarity paid off for Jack Kozlowski.

The St. Charles Preparatory School golfer made a second trip to the Ohio Junior Championship and finished atop the leaderboard.

Kozlowski, who will be a senior this fall, won the 144-player tournament held June 13 and 14 at Ashland Golf Club by shooting a 2-under-par 142 over two rounds. A year ago in the 16-18 age event, the Worthington resident finished in the middle of the pack.

Kozlowski carded a 70 in the first round and a 72 in the second to edge runner-up Cade Breitenstine, a Uniontown Green junior who shot a 143 (68-75).

"I played there last year and that helped a lot," Kozlowski said. "It's the biggest junior tournament in Ohio, so it was good to win that and get an exemption to (Ohio Golf Association) Junior events."

Kozlowski, who shot a 161 (84-77) in last year's event to finish 60th behind champion Jack Gilkison (144) of Springboro, said he didn't go to his driver very often because Ashland Golf Club is shorter than most courses.

"My distance on drives is one of my strengths, but I have been putting well," Kozlowski said. "Putting is probably the strongest part of my game. I make a lot of putts."

St. Charles coach Brian Unk said Kozlowski is a competitor who finds ways to win.

"Jack is really competitive, and he has a nose for winning," said Unk, who also is Kozlowski's swing coach. "He is really long off the tee and is one of the best putters that I have seen in high-school golf. He doesn't get too emotional. He's not up or down; he stays steady out there."

Kozlowski also qualified for the Optimist International Junior Championships that will be held July 28-Aug. 2 at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He won a playoff for the sixth and final qualifying spot for the event in the Optimist International Ohio North District Tournament on June 12 at Tam O'Shanter in Canton.

Kozlowski and Olentangy Liberty's Josh Steyer both shot a 74 to tie for sixth in the Ohio North District Tournament, but the Cardinals standout won a three-hole playoff to secure a berth in the Optimist International Junior Championships. Both golfers parred the first two playoff holes before Kozlowski made a 20-foot par putt on the third to advance.

"I was pretty confident going in despite having a three-hour wait from the time I finished my round until we started the playoff," Kozlowski said. "I just tried to take deep breaths and visualize my shots."

Kozlowski also qualified for the USGA Junior Amateur on July 17-22 at Flint Hills National in Andover, Kansas. He shot an even-par 72 on June 19 at Lake Forest Country Club in Hudson to tie for second as the top two advanced. He then won a five-hole playoff to earn the second qualifying berth.

"I birdied four of my last seven holes to reach the playoff," Kozlowski said. "I'm in a good stretch right now."

Kozlowski has been around the game of golf his entire life, as his family's house borders on the No. 5 hole at Brookside. He said he started playing the sport at age 2.

"I live on Brookside, so my dad, Mike Kozlowski, and my grandfathers, Joseph Braune and Dennis Kozlowski, were playing with me early," he said. "I grew up with the game."

Last fall, the Cardinals finished second (307) of 12 teams in the two-day Division I state tournament at Ohio State's Scarlet Course, behind Cincinnati St. Xavier (303). Dublin Jerome (308) was third.

Kozlowski shot a 77 at state as teammate Evan Yakubov, who will play at Indiana University this fall, carded a 71 to earn co-medalist honors with St. Xavier's Cameron Frazier.

"I want to work on my consistency," Kozlowski said.

"I want to get my swing down to a tee and make sure I'm ready to play."

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