EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Something interesting always happens during the Evansville Men's City Golf Tournament.
A total of 173 golfers competed for 63 spots during Saturday's qualifying round. It marks the most entrants for the tournament since 2008 and the first time two courses were required since 2016.
There were low scores. Plenty of suspense with an 8-man playoff. Even a little bit of drama for the final spot in the main event. Even attempting to qualify never lacks interest.
Here is a look at what happened at Fendrich and Helfrich Hills.
Fendrich yielded several low scores
It should come as no surprise which site surrendered more birdies with 17 players shooting par or better at Fendrich. For comparison, only one achieved this mark last year in the qualifier.
Mitchell Johnson and Matthew Godsey paced the field at 6-under 64. Johnson, a North High School grad, tallied an impressive 10 birdies including four straight to end the day.
Godsey, a junior at Brescia, overcame a bogey on his first hole – the par-4 10th – to play flawless golf the rest of the day. The Memorial High School grad finished with seven birdies.
"My main goal was to make the cut," said Godsey. "As soon as I started getting it rolling, I wanted to see how low I could go. It just all came together on one day. I've been practicing a lot to get on the skill level I want to be at."
Zach Williams (six birdies) shot 5-under. Eric Brinker (six birdies) and Luke Johnston (five birdies) finished at 4-under. Patrick Montgomery, Zachary Turi, Brody Sorrell and Ryan Horstketter all carded 3-under.
Noah Reese, Aaron Ashley, Drew Cahill, Ed Prevo and Daneil Hernly were the others in red numbers.
Here is everyone else who qualified from Fendrich: Cory Kohlmeyer, Grant McAtee, Brayden Lamborne (70); Scott Alpers, Nolan Ballard, Adam Akin, Clayton Zirkelbach, Kyle Smith, Kellen Higginson, William Redden, Brad House, Ben Meier (71); Jim Godsey, Mason Wassmer, Reid Lorey, Kurt Denning, Luke Richison (72); Ottie Droste, Kyle Seitz, Andy Eble, Sam Key, Cameron Scheller, Harold Schriefer, Aaron Huff, Matt Whitmore, Nathan Lester, Jim Thompson, Grant McCleary, Brent Weinzapfel (73); Mason Royalty, Lucas Zielinski, Tom Gayhart, Dustin Ross, Steve Wassmer and Don Neel (74).
Schroeder family has memorable day at Helfrich
James Schroeder has been intertwined with this tournament and Helfrich Hills for years.
He won the Dan Scism Scholarship in 1995. When he was 14, his family moved across from the Michael D. Helfrich House which is located behind the 10th green.
Nothing in his mind topped this year. His round only played a small part in it. Schroeder claimed the final qualifying spot from the Helfrich group with a par in a one-hole playoff against Stephen Smith.
His caddie? His 10-year-old son Will. His oldest, Zach, had the second lowest round at Helfrich to also qualify.
"I love this tournament and never qualified," said James Schroeder. "This year, my boys played for the first time. (To qualify) is such a blessing, but it probably means more because of them."
Zach Schroeder, a rising junior at Mater Dei, was one of the few to find success at Helfrich. He posted a 4-over 75 with three birdies to finish one shot behind Tyler Raben for the low round. His younger brother Matthew, an incoming freshman, shot an 87 to miss the cut by only four shots.
"Zach shot a great score," said his father. "He was a four-putt away from winning the qualifier. It's really cool to have us all together today. To get that last spot was a cherry on top."
Here were the 14 who qualified from Helfrich: Tyler Raben (73); Zach Schroeder (75); Thomas Broshears (76); Kevin Higdon (77); Cody Mobley (78); Griffin Sohn, Rhett Schreiber, Chad Goble (79); Jake Hess (80); Aidan Ashley, Peter Doepker, Patrick Britz, Bryan Will (82); James Schroeder (83).
Great shots and drama in playoff
The final spots into the tournament – the first round will be played July 16 – required extra holes at Fendrich. This is where the 8-man playoff occurred, plus some controversy.
Ten players finished at 4-over 74 with five spots on the line. However, two weren't present at the 10th tee when their names were called. Those five advancing spots were then determined in one hole.
Tom Gayhart, Steve Wassmer, Dustin Ross, Lucas Zielinski and Don Neel each pared the first playoff hole. Four of them scrambled with Gayhart the only player to hit the green. The best shot belonged to Zielinski.
After hitting his second shot long, he hit a perfect pitch over a hill that nearly rolled into the cup. Zielinski, who said he raced back for the playoff and needed to buy a hat in the pro shop, couldn't see the pin.
"I don't want (that shot) over again," said Zielinski. "That's one of the best shots in my life probably. We thought 74 would be 100% in. We ate lunch and were not planning on coming back to play golf."
Mason Royalty birdied the third playoff hole to earn what was originally an alternate position. However, he received a spot in the tournament when it was determined a player who shot better than 74 did not meet the primary residence eligibility requirement.
The tournament rules state entries are open to male amateur players who are residents of Vanderburgh, Posey, Warrick or Gibson counties.
Follow Courier & Press sports reporter Kyle Sokeland on Twitter @kylesokeland.
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Evansville Men's City Golf Qualifier ends in dramatic playoff