Learning the little things: L/P golfer works on his short game

Published 9:50 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

It’s all about the little things in sports. That extra yard in football, that extra inch over the plate in baseball, and that extra effort in a long run.

No one knows about little things more than Lyle/Pacelli golfer Matt Buntje, who has grown to appreciate them — especially on putts and chip shots.

After averaging a score of 45.1 last season, the senior has brought down his average to 42.4 this year. He found out exactly what he’s capable of when he shot a career-high score of 73 in 18 holes in Adams last week.

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“That was huge for me. Before that my putting wasn’t the best, but that day it was on,” Matt said. “So I know it’s there, I’ve just got to work on it a little more.”

It is those short shots that stay in Matt’s mind. He knows the focus must be there, but admits it’s tough to stay focused when frustration enters the equation.

“My tee shots go pretty straight and pretty far and my irons are pretty good. It comes down to putting and chipping,” he said. “If you hit it right, it should go in, I’ve just got to take more time. If you just walk up to it, there’s no chance of making it.”

Matt has shot under 40 four times this season and he has won six medals this year and 14 in his career at L/P.

His coach and dad, Mark Buntje has seen him grow over the last two Springs.

“He’s improved every year and he’s put a lot of time into it and worked hard. It’s paid off this year,” L/P head coach Mark Buntje said. “The days he putts and chips well, he’s played well. The days he doesn’t, that’s his downfall.”

After getting to the Section meet last season, Matt is hoping to take it one step further and get to state. Last year, he was six strokes from competing in a tiebreaker to get to state.

“I’m really hoping I can put a front and back together like I did at Adams and get to state. But there’s a few people out there that are good,” Matt said. “I’m hoping my season gets a little bit better because I’ve had a few scores in the upper 40s, which I don’t like to get. But it’s good when you can say a score in the 40s is bad. So I’m getting there.”

Mark said the field will be very competitive at sections, but Matt could be in the mix.

“If he can play well he’s got a chance,” Mark said. “But there’s a lot of competition down there and there’s some good kids.”

While learning the game of golf over the years, Matt has had some good times and some big competitions with his dad.

“It’s fun. There will be days that I kick the crap out of him and then he’ll beat me on other days,” Matt said.

The SEC golf meet will be held May 15 in Adams and the subsection meet will be held in Faribault May 19.