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Supelak, Koch feel right at home

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    Spencer Koch, of Medina, watches hits his tee shot on the par three 8th hole at Fox Meadow Country Club for the first day of the 97th Ohio Open Championship.

    AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE

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    George Papas of Hinckley hits his tee shot on the third hole at Fox Meadow Country Club for the first day of the 97th Ohio Open Championship.

    AARON JOSEFCZYK / AP

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Fox Meadow Country Club feels like home to Zak Supelak, and it is home to Spencer Koch.

Both played the opening round of the 97th Ohio Open Championship on their favorite course Monday, with Supelak shooting a 4-under-par 68 and Koch holding it together with help from caddy Sean Gordon to come in at 3-over 75.

Half of what began as a 198-player field played at Fox Meadow and half at par-72 Weymouth Country Club, with players switching courses today for the second round, after which the field will be cut to 50 (plus ties) for the championship round Wednesday at Weymouth.

Marysville’s Stephen Gangluff sits in first place after a sizzling 9-under 63, while Hartville’s Jake McBride is one shot back. Zanesville’s Chase Wilson, who aced the 215-yard 13th hole, sits in third place after shooting a 65. All three played at Fox Meadow.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Supelak is a member at Fox Meadow, which his grandfather Richard Supelak has been a part of since the club’s inception. The Copley resident, 2017 Walsh Jesuit High graduate and Cleveland State University golf recruit has played “far and away” more rounds at Fox Meadow than any other course.

“I’m out there practicing every day,” Supelak said, “and I play at least three rounds a week there.”

Even par after the front nine, Supelak birdied 11 and bogeyed 12, then birdied the final four holes to get to 4 under. He could have shot 66, but missed short putts on the 13th and 14th holes.

“I had to be really patient,” the 18-year-old said. “The birdie holes come late at Fox.”

Making the day even more enjoyable, Supelak was part of a threesome that included John Powers, who shot 5-under 67 and will be his assistant coach at Cleveland State.

“I like to think I hit it pretty far, but then I played with my assistant coach,” Supelak said with a laugh. “He just bombs it. I don’t feel that way now.”

Supelak played in the Division I state tournament all four years at Walsh, with the Warriors finishing fifth last season behind his ninth-place, All-Ohio individual showing. As a junior in the 2015 fall season, he shot 6 under to win the prestigious Kiely Cup by 11 strokes at Canterbury Golf Club.

Supelak will use the same approach today at Weymouth that he used Monday at Fox Meadow and throughout his prep career.

“I just go out and try to focus on the first tee shot,” he said. “That’s all I think about the night before.”

Koch, whose family lives on the Fox Meadow course, smilingly said he’s played more rounds on the 6,917-yard layout than anyone but his father Bob. The 20-year-old holds the course record with a 9-under 61, but he couldn’t duplicate that Monday after rolling out of bed and walking to the first tee.

“I felt like I was grinding the entire front nine,” said Koch, who made the turn at 3 over. “I missed some fairways, and if you’re not hitting fairways you can end up with some bad lies, which I did.”

With help from longtime friend Gordon, who was with him when he set the course record, Koch played the back nine in even par but missed a pair of short putts that would have gotten him to 1 over for the day.

“I’m hanging in there mentally,” he said. “Usually, I get ticked off. When (Gordon) is here, I can talk to him and think about something other than golf. He kept me in it.”

Koch, who attended Medina High through his sophomore year and then went to Halstrom Academy in Florida, spent the last two years playing for Long Beach State University, but will transfer in the fall to Central Florida, where he will likely have to sit out a season and then have two years of eligibility remaining.

Today will also feel like home to Koch, who played the first round of his life — at the age of 3 or 4 — at nearby Weymouth, where his grandparents lived when he was a kid.

“I’m going to be really aggressive,” Koch said. “I think I can still make the cut. I haven’t been playing much tournament golf, so it takes a round to get going.”

Tap-ins

  • Medina’s Kyle Richardson topped Medina County golfers with a 4-under 68 at Weymouth. Medina’s Patrick Luth shot 2 under at Fox Meadow and Pete Skirpstas had an even-par 72 at Weymouth.
  • Medina’s Evan Schreck was one of several players who withdrew from the event.
  • Action resumes today at 8 a.m. at Fox Meadow and Weymouth, with a second-tier of players going off in the early afternoon.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.



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