Junior Kyle Pillar helped Wallenpaupack win the Lackawanna League Class AAA title and the District 2 Class AAA team championship.
The last time the Buckhorns won a district crown, it was in 1985 when they were a part of District 12 and Kyle’s father, John Sr., was a member of that team.
Kyle talked about what it was like to bring another district title to the Pillar household, as well as a number of other topics, in this week’s edition of ATHLETE OF THE WEEK EXTRA.
In the District 2 final match against Crestwood at Fox Hill Golf Club, how tough were the conditions, especially on the back nine? It definitely was tough. I was about 2-over through 15 holes. I hit 16, 17 and 18 and kind of went downhill. The wind started picking up, it started drizzling. I ended up making two doubles (bogeys) on 16 and 17 and ended up finishing with a bogey, so it was a tough finish. But overall, I hit the ball well so I can’t complain. It’s a tough course.
So was there a key hole earlier in your round that helped? Definitely No. 3. It’s a longer par 3. I hit a decent 6-iron to about 25 feet, hit another putt real close and tapped in. I had started with a bogey and made a par on No. 2. So I wasn’t sure how the round was going to go because it is a tough course. That really helped build momentum going into No. 4 and No. 5.
What was your dad’s reaction after the team won the district title? When I finished my round, I pulled out my phone and he was like a little kid at Christmas, texting me, asking me 100 questions — How’s it going? Where’s everybody at? He was excited. He was just happy to see us play well.
Honestly, I think he was more excited than we were. He was running around, hootin’ and hollerin’ in the room. And I really didn’t know he was on the last team to win one. He probably didn’t want to say anything to jinx us. But it’s nice to know. Now we can tease my older brother (John Jr.). He’s the only one who doesn’t have one. He was pretty devastated when we lost last year. But he’s happy to see the team do well (this year). Obviously, he wishes he could be part of it. But he was real excited for us and proud of us.
Up next are the subregionals against a team from District 4. What do you have to do to be successful? Eliminate the big numbers. Corbin (Babyak) and I both played well but kind of went through the same thing. Once we hit (holes) 14, 15, we were in that 1-, 2-over spot. Then we both made some big numbers that really hurt us toward the end and made that Crestwood match a little closer than it should have been.
Subregionals are at Eagles Mere Country Club, a course you’ve never played before. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’ve heard everything is pretty much straight in front of you. So we’re just going to out there. hit to what we see and not get too fancy with anything. For me, sometimes the courses I’ve never played before I do better. I don’t see the water that I hit my ball into. I don’t see the bunker that I hit my ball into. I don’t see the bad shots I’ve hit there. I just see the fairway and the green more than I would at a place like Woodloch Springs, where we play all the time. It seems like I remember a bad shot every place I step there.
A win at subregionals sends you to the PIAA Team Championships. Regardless of what happens, though, are you pleased with the season? Obviously, we want to make it to the state tournament pretty bad. But we have a young team. We have two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman returning. Everybody plays all summer and it’s everybody’s main sport. So if something unfortunate should happen and we do lose, everybody is going to be ready for next year. We’re just going to be prepared and want to go out and win.
A dream golf course you’d like to play. I’d love to play at Augusta. Every time the spring rolls around and it pops up on TV, getting ready for the Masters, it’s just a place I’d love to go down and play. They always make it look just absolutely beautiful. Obviously, it is. It’s just such a magnificent course.
Any superstitions or rituals? Not really. When we show up, we always hit the putting green and do a lot of long putts and lag putts to get the speed of the greens. Go hit a couple balls at the range and be done with it. Just get ready to play.