FORSYTH -- Dylan Flock's wedge game was always enough to make him a good varsity player, even when he couldn't drive a ball more than 170 yards.
It's why Maroa-Forsyth/Warrensburg-Latham golf coach Randy Massey brought him up to play with the big boys a few matches into his freshman year.
Around the greens, he had skill.
But Flock, now a junior, hasn't experienced success beyond the regular season. He's hoping this is the year -- or, more specifically, today is the day. His third chance to see a sectional starts today at the Mahomet-Seymour Regional.
Physically, he's capable of a breakthrough.
"Now he's getting to where he's long enough," Massey said. "The longer courses would beat him up when he was a freshman."
Mentally, he believes it.
"Last year, I didn't feel like I could get out of regionals," Flock said. "But I'm really confident going in. I feel like I can get through."
He said he takes it more seriously this year and he practices more often.
He played on the Prep Tour, a junior circuit that travels around Illinois, this summer. There, Massey said Flock came into his own.
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"I think he found out (he) can go to about any golf course and compete with most of these people that are (his) age," Massey said.
"There's a certain level of competition there that's good for you when you know you can handle that pressure and stuff, and then you can come to these matches and it's just another round of golf."
He's shooting lower scores as a result -- three times carding a 35 this season -- and answering Massey's challenge after last year.
"I kind of surprised him at the end of last season when I told him I was a little disappointed," Massey said. "I said, 'You have to do a lot better.' "
Now he's one of three MF/WL golfers steadily at the top of leaderboards this fall. Flock, Sean Johnson and Justin Beckemeyer have traded leads back and forth.
Johnson may be playing as well as any of them entering today's regional.
The senior has been the team's lowest scorer in three of the last four matches, shooting 37 twice and a 77 for fifth at the Okaw Valley Conference meet.
"It's probably my best year so far," Johnson said. "The last few years I haven't been playing well leading up to regionals, but this year I finally am."
Beckemeyer received praise from his coach, who said this year he has cut about five strokes off of his 2014 scoring average.
Together, they make a pretty good starting three to setup regionals. Although a fourth good score may be what the team needs to advance today, the top threesome at least has Massey a little hopeful.
"Last year, I wasn't really optimistic about our chances," Massey said. "We couldn't come up with even a third scorer last year.
"Most of the year, with these top three, I was pretty optimistic. If those three can play at or slightly better than average, and I can get one other guy to shoot a better score, then we can be competitive."