Boys Golf: Hilliard Davidson's Zach Burton rising to occasion
Hilliard Davidson boys golfer Zach Burton entered the season with specific goals as he looked to improve on his performance from a year ago.
Near the top of that list for the junior was earning Player of the Year honors in the OCC-Central Division after falling just short last season.
Burton achieved that goal with a three-round average of 71.25, finishing ahead of runner-up Corbin Bentley of Olentangy Orange (72.67).
Individual league awards were based on golfers' averages from their top three rounds in the four-round tournament.
"I'm absolutely happy," Burton said. "Last year I thought I should have won Player of the Year in my division, but didn't. I came out this year wanting to win it and I did, and it was even more impressive because it was a harder division this year (after OCC realignment). ... I like playing against the best."
The first team included Burton and five golfers from Orange and Olentangy Liberty.
Burton was the medalist in two of the four rounds, with a low score of 68 in the second round Aug. 22 at Turnberry.
"I'm not too surprised," coach Brett Miller said. "He's set high expectations for himself. He can be hard on himself even when he's regular par. ... I know he wanted to be the low individual for the OCC (Central), that was his goal."
Davidson finished fifth at 5-15, behind co-champions Liberty and Orange (18-2), Dublin Coffman (11-9) and Upper Arlington (8-12) and ahead of Bradley (0-20).
"Golf is an individual sport, so the moment you step out on the course, you really just have to start thinking about yourself, which is disappointing but there's only so much you can do for the team," Burton said. "It was nice to see the freshmen get along and play and hopefully develop and learn for next year."
UA won the OCC-Central last season at 19-1 for its fourth consecutive league title, while Davidson was third at 12-8.
Sophomore Matt Jackson, who was honorable mention all-league (90) last season, finished with an 87.33 three-round average.
The remaining players are freshmen, and Miller hopes they will benefit from competing during the postseason.
Ben Oakley finished with a league average of 86. Also competing were Silas Taphorn (86.25), Aidan Terek (87) and Will Barber (87.5).
"We have a really young team," Miller said. "We have four freshmen and a sophomore after Zach. Between the other five varsity players, they're all within one stroke of each other average-wise."
Burton's next goal is to advance past the Division I district tournament and qualify for his first state tournament, which will be held Oct. 23 and 24 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Last season at district, he shot a 73 to tie for seventh of 72 golfers, as the top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state.
"His scores have been so consistently low for the entire year that I was waiting for him to possibly dip a little bit, but he really hasn't," Miller said. "His No. 1 goal is to make it to state. He was pretty close to making it last year, so it was pretty hard for him being that close and not making it."
Davidson will compete in a sectional Oct. 6 at Darby Creek or Turnberry or Oct. 7 at Denison Golf Club. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at Apple Valley.
"The goal is definitely to make it to the state tournament," Burton said. "Team-wise, see if we can make it to district, and for me individually, I'd like to make it to the state tournament and play well there."