HAMILTON — Toku Fujiwara made the turn at the ninth hole on Tuesday at Walden Ponds Golf Club with a three-stroke lead on the Greater Miami Conference competition and a grin on his face.
“I hope to be holding up the trophy when this is all over with,” the Lakota West High School sophomore said.
Fujiwara birdied three of the last four holes after a sluggish start to shoot a 1-over-par 73 on Wednesday and clinch his first GMC championship. Fujiwara carded a 2-under 70 in the first round for a two-day total 143.
“All day I was pretty nervous because I had lost the lead,” Fujiwara said. “Coach told me after the 14th hole that I had to pull it together so we could win this one for the team.”
Fujiwara double-bogeyed the first and fourth holes, eagled the sixth, bogeyed the 12th and then birdied 15, 17 and 18 to clinch it.
“He didn’t get off to a great start, but he grinded it out,” Lakota West coach Chris Conway said. “He said he had a brand new nine to finish things off strong, and that’s exactly what he did.
“The pressure was on, and when the pressure is mounting, he hits some clutch putts,” Conway added. “He leads by example for sure. He loves to talk, and he tends to back it up most of the time. He played really well and focused throughout the round. He brought it back and converted when he needed to.”
Mason’s Thomas Niere (71-74—145) and Lakota East’s Bobby Horseman (76-71—147) finished second and third, respectively.
Lakota West captured the team title by four strokes over Lakota East, followed by Mason, Sycamore, Colerain, Fairfield, Oak Hills, Hamilton, Princeton and Middletown. It is Lakota West’s first GMC boys golf title since 2009.
“I told the boys before the tournament that our overall depth was going to come through for us, and it did,” Conway said. “The contributions whether it be at the top of the lineup or the bottom, everyone stepped up. It was truly a team effort.”
“It definitely was validation that we can prove to ourselves and what we’re capable of going into the tournament,” Fujiwara said. “I think our whole team was confident and many of us knew we were the favorite going in. We expected to win this thing.”
Lakota West’s Griffin Wullenweber (75-75—150) tied for fifth place with Lakota East’s Walker Wood (76-74—150). Lakota West’s Michael Fickle (73-78—151) and Emerson Wieland (74-78—152) followed close behind.
“We hope this propels us for the postseason,” Conway said. “Our sectional is crazy and filled with talent. If we make it through that, we will have a shot at districts if we stay focused.”