Benton High school freshman Cy Norman got his prep career off to a record-breaking start last Saturday, setting four records with a round of 62 at the 17th Annual McDonald's Challenge hosted by Anna-Jonesboro High School.
That performance led the Rangers to their fourth straight title at Union County Country Club.
Norman, who is the son of BHS head coach Reggie Norman, shattered the tournament record with his nine-under par performance and the course record for nine holes when he a shot a 28 on the front nine. He also set new school records by four strokes for 18 and by three strokes for nine holes.
"Twenty-eight was my lowest nine ever, but I knew I had it in me," Cy Norman said. "I just happened to get hot with the putter."
Benton shot a team score of 295, beating Marion by 24 strokes. Norman won medalist honors and senior Brad Hammond also medaled, finishing eighth with a 75 after winning a chip-off against Carbondale freshman Ian Davis.
Norman's high school career actually began two days earlier at the IHSA Prep Tour High School Showcase in LaSalle, where the Rangers were playing against the top 16 teams from 1A, 2A and 3A.
Benton didn't fare so well on this occasion, including Norman, who carded an 81.
"It was a very difficult course and a course we don't see, so we were playing blind," said Coach Norman. "What happened is they got their teeth kicked in and when you get your teeth kicked in, it tends to humble and motivate.
"And when you get humbled and hungry, good things happen. I will always love that tournament because it humbles us. It is the best tournament period."
At that meet, Hammond shot a 77, senior Cole Brugger an 84, senior Jared Shaw an 88, senior Brett Merkel a 95 and junior Peyton Sieveking a 97.
"Everybody struggled, so it was really good to come back and win as a team," Cy Norman said. "Today (at Anna), we actually reached our team goal of breaking 300 in just our second tournament of the season."
Norman got to a good enough start with a par on hole No. 1, a birdie on two and another par on three. At that point, he held a one-stroke lead over Chester junior Jarrett James, who finished second with a 69.
Then, Norman's day got better with seven straight birdies. He finished the last eight holes with seven pars and a birdie. After suffering nine bogies and no birdies in LaSalle, he turned that around with nine birdies and no bogies.
"I've never had a run like that before," Cy said. "From 100 yards in was really big for me today. I hit 17 of 18 greens. I had 26 putts with my longest being 25 feet on six. If I have under 30 putts, I usually have a good day."
Everyone else also improved, but not by the 19 strokes Norman did. Hammond improved by two, Brugger by six (78), Shaw by eight (80), Merkel by 15 (80) and Sieveking by 17 (80) while the team score improved by 35 strokes to 295."
"If we were to go up to LaSalle right now, it would be a different story," Coach Norman said. "The idea is to keep getting better. We're looking to put everything together. Our goal was to break 300, so our new goal is to shoot 280."