Friday, August 08, 2008

SPORTS>>Strong finish makes this summer special for Sherwood golfer

Leader sportswriter

It has been a breakout summer for Nick Zimmerman.

The 17-year-old Sherwood resident will finish the golf season with a third-place ranking in the Arkansas State Golf Association youth-league standings, racking up three tournament wins along the way.

Inconsistency during the first three tournaments of the year put Zimmerman a bit behind, but his win in the 16-year-old bracket at the Bruce Jenkins Memorial on June 11 at Rebsamen Park was the beginning of a career summer for the two-sport standout.

He finished a respectable 12th in the youth standings in 2007, but added size from a year ago is the main reason Zimmerman attributes to his climb up the standings.

“I’ve had it coming,” Zimmerman said. “Over the winter, I grew a lot, and I began hitting the ball a little further and a little better. I had a good chance of winning player of the year, it just didn’t work out.”

His win in the Jenkins Memorial was followed by a victory in the Ben I. Mayo Junior Stroke Hardscrabble at FortSmith in mid-July. It didn’t come easy, as Zimmerman had to outlast Cabot standout and two-time ASGA Junior Player of the Year Nicklaus Benton. Zimmerman beat Benton with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

The Mayo tourney was good for his confidence, but Zimmerman said his win in the Mountain Valley Junior Stroke state championship was a career moment. The tourney at Pine Bluff in late July is considered one of the most prestigious around the state. Not only did Zimmerman win, he dominated, carrying a 7-stroke lead into the final day.

“It was just perfect the way it turned out,” Zimmerman said. “I played as good as I ever had in that one. I had a 7-shot lead going into that final day, and didn’t have a single bogey that day, so it was quite an accomplishment for me.”

Zimmerman, who is also a starter for the Sylvan Hills Bears basketball team, attended school at Immaculate Conception until his freshman year. He spent one year at North Little Rock before transferring to Hillside for his sophomore year.

The goal for Zimmerman right now is to follow his older brother Mitch into the UALR golf program. Mitch also was a two-sport star at Sylvan Hills. Football was Mitch’s other sport. Nick will be a freshman at UALR this season, and Trojan golf coach Wyn Norwood has already expressed interest in him.

His classroom work has also been solid, with a 3.5 GPA. His ACT scores are not to his satisfaction yet, but he plans on improving them before next spring. Zimmerman wants to enter the pharmacy field once he completes his basics at college.

Zimmerman enjoys all outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing. He hunts everything from duck to deer; with his biggest kill coming last winter when he bagged an 8-point buck.

Zimmerman said he wants to fully enjoy his final year in high school before the more demanding world of college begins.

Among activities he says he is looking forward to as a senior include ‘rolling the juniors,’ which is a light-hearted hazing tradition at Hillside, senior skip day, or what Zimmerman terms senior skip week for the ’09 class, and, of course, graduation itself.

“The last few weeks, Sylvan Hills High School is probably going to see its share of senior pranks,” Zimmerman joked. “But don’t quote me on that. All in all, (Sylvan Hills) has been a pretty good fit for me. It’s not too big, and it’s not too small. I just grew up playing both sports, and started playing them in high school as well.”