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Will Straub hopes to follow in father’s footsteps

Tim Straub has collected his fair share of hardware in a golf career that has stretched over more than 30 years.

The Orchard Park native has won national titles at the high school and college level. He was part of an NCAA championship squad at Wake Forest in 1986 and was the runner-up in 1987. He earned the Atlantic Coast Conference individual championship his senior year.

Before that, he succeeded locally, winning the 1984 International Junior Masters and two New York State Amateur Championships.

But this weekend he’ll trade chip shots and putts for claps and encouraging words as his son, Will, competes in the Junior Masters at East Aurora Country Club.

Will, 16, is competing for the same title his father earned 30 years ago.

“I always thought about it. When he started playing golf seriously about a year and a half ago, I just thought it would be perfect for him to come here,” Tim Straub said.

Straub and his family live in North Carolina where Tim coaches the Davidson College team. Because of this, Will had never played at East Aurora Country Club before this tournament.

However, he had heard plenty about his father’s come-from-behind win in 1984. Straub still has vivid memories of that day and is happy to tell the tale.

“I remember playing in a first hole playoff with Billy Mayfair and getting down from the left of the green to win it in a playoff,” Straub said. “I remember making the turn and being four down at the turn and kind of making a charge on the back nine to come back and win it.”

Mayfair, of course, recovered from the collapse and has been a member of the PGA Tour for 26 years.

Will isn’t exactly on pace to repeat his father’s feat, but he’s off to a decent start. He shot a first-round 76 and believes he can improve on the score during today’s round.

Andres Gonzalez of Mexico and Paul Edgar of Kitchener, Ont., each shot 68 Tuesday to set the pace for the tournament.

“I had a stretch of bogeys, but I came back with some birdies,” Will Straub said. “I made a couple of mistakes that could easily be corrected. No issues with my swing, just shots here and there that I could easily correct. Tomorrow will be a little better.”

Despite his father’s success, Will didn’t start playing golf seriously until about a year and a half ago. After shooting a 69 in a tournament last year, he realized his potential and put soccer and basketball on the back burner.

“Once I started practicing more, I started playing better,” Will said. “Once you start playing better and hitting it better, it’s a lot more fun.”

Like many young athletes, Will resisted his father’s advice for a long time. Recently, he’s begun to listen and even seek out wisdom.

“It’s funny. The older he gets, the more he’ll listen,” Straub said. “When he was younger, he didn’t want to listen to me. Now, he asks a lot of questions and wants to learn.”

Straub knows it takes years of meticulous practice to attain the type of success he had or even to play at the collegiate level like Will wants to do. But he sees progress in his son’s game.

“He’s getting there, he’s getting better. He’s still up and down, but he’s getting there,” Straub said.

Play will continue today as the second medal qualifier round will take place in the morning. Scores through 36 holes will decide which 32 players move on to the championship flight and which players move on to other flights.

Local players with a chance of advancing include Ben Reichert, an incoming Williamsville North junior who shot 73, and Nolan Ditcher of Randolph (74) They won’t make it without a fight, however, as 36 players shot 76 or better Tuesday.

Trevor Ranton, 2013 tournament champion, shot 74.