HYDE - Two superb players with two scorching scores. Two palpitating playoff holes. One winner.
Those were the stakes at Thursday's Upper Peninsula Division III boys golf finals at Highland Golf Club.
Cedarville senior Sam Eberts and Carney-Nadeau freshman Hunter Eichhorn both came in even at 71, shooting identical scores of 36 on the front nine and 35 on the back.
There were many good scores on the day, including a trio of 75's. That score would have been good enough to win medalist honors in each of the past two U.P. Finals, but not Thursday.
Inside the clubhouse, another nail-biter ensued as scores from Cedarville and Painesdale-Jeffers came in. When the dust settled, it was the Jeffers Jets by a slim margin, taking the U.P. title for the third consecutive year with a score of 314.
Both teams had four golfers all at 83 or under, but Stephen Butina's and Tyler Bailey's dual 75's were enough to put the Jets over the top. Cedarville was second at 316 followed by Carney-Nadeau 337, Rudyard 341 and Munising 347.
Eichhorn, the young phenom from Carney, made a splash in 2013 as an eighth grader, when he was runner-up on this same course.
Putting together a card that was four strokes better and staying remarkably consistent throughout, he nearly still found himself in the same boat.
Eichhorn was the tactician, displaying a wealth of ability and golf knowledge. He had a seemingly large advantage from the tee-box, frequently drawing ooos and ahhs with his long drives of well over 200 yards.
He looked ahead on fairways with a pair of binoculars, measured distance and tested the wind with handfuls of sand, using every available piece of information to his advantage.
On the playoff, both appeared confident. There was Eberts, appearing relaxed, smiling throughout and celebrating his small victories, and the ever-stoic Eichhorn.
Each appeared to make a costly error during the playoff. Eberts drove hard to the left from the No. 10 tee box, falling just out of bounds, but he recovered incredibly well.
His next shot went sailing back on course and landed just on the edge of the green, where he two-putted for par to force a second playoff hole.
On No. 11, Eichhorn drove too hard to the right and landed amongst a cluster of trees. His next shot banked off the bark, but landed in a favorable position, where had a clear shot to the green.
Once there, he two-putted for a bogey.
Eberts meanwhile, was in position to match with a short putt. He took his time, lined up his shot, and turned and exhaled when it went past the hole.
Thanks to Eichhorn and Eberts however, both of their schools received a boost with their scores of 71. Cedarville finished as runners-up at 316 and Carney-Nadeau finished with possibly the best finals score in school history, coming in third at 337.
The Jets, however ruled the day. Identical twins Alex and Christopher Outinen capped their team with respective scores of 81 and 83