Friends meet in rivalry matchup

Thursday, April 27, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:15 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

For Thomas Schuenemeyer and Kyle Kovar, Wednesday’s round of golf together was typical. Schuenemeyer and Kovar go out to play golf with each other, usually once a week. They play even more in the summer.

This was different, though. They were truly opponents.

The high school seniors are the No. 1 golfers on their teams, Schuenemeyer at Rock Bridge and Kovar at Hickman. But they have been playing golf together since elementary school. They also used to work together at Mid-Missouri Discount Golf.

Since freshman year, though, they have been opponents.

Still, on Wednesday at Columbia Country Club, just as many other times, the two competed in a friendly way.

“In golf, everything is a little different,” Kovar said. “You can play together while joking around.

“You want your friend to do well.”

Schuenemeyer agreed it helps more than it hinders to play against a friend.

“I am just more comfortable because I know when to talk to him and when not to,” Schuenemeyer said. “It makes it fun.”

Rock Bridge won Wednesday’s match, beating Hickman 8 1/2 to 6 1/2, with Schuenemeyer winning the No. 1 matchup. The teams faced off in a match play format similar to the Ryder Cup, but with a little twist Rock Bridge coach Doug Daniels invented.

In this game, a golfer received a point for winning the front nine, a point for winning the back nine, and then a point for winning the round.

If a golfer had a bad front nine, he still had reason to try on the back. The match play format also allowed golfers to bounce back from a bad hole and continue competing.

“It was a really nice format which allows the guys to just have fun, and it helped to take a little of the pressure of districts off their shoulders for a while,” Daniels said.

Both Rock Bridge and Hickman have much to do before playing in the Class 4 District 5 Tournament on May 4 at A.L Gustin Golf Course.

Hickman’s top four golfers have been as good as any in the area this season, winning four of the five major tournaments they’ve played in. But Hickman coach Clark Swisher said he worries about the fifth golfer. He said he has four players contending for that last spot.

“I lay awake at night thinking about that fifth man,” Swisher said. “The top four have been playing strong, but they need that fifth player in districts to take the pressure off them.”

Daniels said Rock Bridge must just stay focused and play well.

“We have a chance to make it to state,” Daniels said. “Hickman has to be the favorite because they have the best top four, but I think we might have a better situation in our fifth spot.”

“We enjoy this tournament because all 10 kids get to play,” Swisher said.

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