If a tight lower back that had sidelined him more than a week wasn’t enough, Dustin Blackburn’s first shot at districts hit a tree and went into the pond.
“A lot of kids would have thrown their hands up and said, ‘Here goes a bad day,'” Tigers golf coach Brent Kell said.
The Houston junior shook off a slow start and overcame a stiff back to shoot an 11-over par 81 Thursday to win the Class 2 District 6 championship at Marshfield.
“He sucked it up and played really good golf,” Kell said. “Somebody with lesser mental toughness would have given up.”
Although Blackburn tied for 25th place at the state last year, Kell admitted he was surprised by his first-place finish at districts. A back injury that required three trips to the chiropractor limited Blackburn to chipping and putting for almost two weeks.
But Blackburn shrugged off the injury to win Houston’s first individual district title since Toby Breedlove in 1993.
“He’s worked really hard. If anybody deserves it, Dustin deserves it,” Kell said. “You like to see kids that put in that much time get rewarded for it.”
Blackburn wasn’t phased by 40 mph winds that hurt his competitors, and he was able to stay out of the 6-inch rough. His back stayed mostly loose until the 16th hole, costing him consecutive bogeys.
Blackburn, who will play in today’s (Thursday) SCA Tournament with his teammates, needs to improve last year’s state showing by only 10 spots to earn all-state honors.
“I think in the back of his mind he’d like to improve on that and make all-state this year,” Kell said. “But I hope he just has fun and doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.”