Ed Paten believes in himself, but when it comes to others, he isn’t so sure they feel the same.
“I have never placed well in this tournament (Francis Hagan Match Play Championship),” Paten said. “I tied for fifth once. Some people, deep in their hearts, don’t give me a chance.”
Paten, though, isn’t concerning himself with what others think as he heads into Saturday’s round at the Lake of the Woods Golf Course. A field of 114 started last week, and Paten has made the field of 16.
“My confidence is very high,” Paten said. “No one will be confident for me. Whatever happens, happens because 63 people will lose. If you look at it that way, then it takes some of the pressure off.”
Paten said he played last weekend with some trouble in his swing. Paten said he felt he had a psychological advantage going into Sunday, and he worked with his trouble.
“I played with my defect,” Paten said. “It is like Ben Hogan said, ‘Whatever you show up with at the course, play it.’ I showed up with a defect, and I played it.”
By the end of Saturday, only four players will remain for Sunday’s final day. The Francis Hagan has never had a consecutive champion, and this year will be no different. D.J. Chung of Hickman High, last year’s winner, didn’t compete this year.
With so many good players, picking a favorite is almost impossible.
Andrew Baier, tournament chairman, said he never picks a favorite.
“I could see any one of these 16 winning,” Baier said. “Any one of these people is going to make a great champion.”
Scott Sasek, who is new to Columbia, said he is enjoying his first match play experience.
“It is an exciting time,” Sasek said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Sasek played Saturday because of a cancellation in the tournament.
Sasek said he felt good with the way he struck the ball, but he had trouble reading the greens. The par 3s gave him a hard time as well.
Despite these faults, Sasek is optimistic about this weekend.
“I feel positive,” Sasek said. “I am going to go out and play my game and advance. I am a competitor. Every time I put a tee in the ground, I want to win.”
Sasek isn’t the only competitor. Josh Brady, 17, who plays for Hickman, said his strategy is “no mercy” for this weekend.
“I feel like I have been too nice in the past,” Brady said. “You kind of have to be ruthless and worry about being friends afterwards.”
Despite his new mindset, Brady sees the five-day rest period between weekends as a challenge.
“It was nice with a good rhythm in Saturday and Sunday, and it is a challenge to set out and not be competitive for five days,” Brady said. “Then you have to tee it up and be competitive. It will be difficult to get in the mind frame again.”