Despite setting a high bar for their respective graduating classes on the Wisconsin junior golf circuit, Tyler Leach hadn't gotten to know Hunter Eichhorn until they clashed a few times this summer.
It turned out they went together like bread and butter, fish and chips, macaroni and cheese and Charlie and Jordan.
Wait. Charlie and Jordan?
"I was talking with a high school coach that I know around here," Leach, a senior this fall at Spring Valley, said of Eric Holen, the coach at nearby Baldwin-Woodville. "He has spent some time talking with Charlie Danielson. He'd always ask Charlie how he became so good and (Charlie) came to the conclusion that it was because he and Jordan Niebrugge were always making each other better, always battling each other out. (Holen's) advice for me was to go to a university where there is another really good player and you guys can battle it out, make each other better. I just felt that Hunter would be a great guy for that."
Indeed, when Leach announced via Twitter this week that he would be attending Marquette next fall and playing golf for the Golden Eagles, "a big part in my decision" was a junior golf rival 262 miles due east of Spring Valley in Carney, Mich. And to think, less than six months ago, Leach barely knew Eichhorn, the only incoming freshman this fall at Marquette, and "didn't know if I'd like him or not."
That was then. This is now.
"Then I met him and I thought he was a great guy," Leach said. "He became one of my best friends."
Together, Leach and Eichhorn—two heavyweights on the Wisconsin PGA Junior Tour the last three years—figure to make a happy man of Golden Eagles coach Steve Bailey, who—per NCAA rules—can't comment publicly on landing the state's No. 1 recruit in Wisconsin.Golf's ranking of the Class of 2018. But he was seen with a big smile this week on the recruiting trail at the U.S. Amateur in Los Angeles.
And why not? On the heels of landing a guy poised to become the first back-to-back winner of the WPGA Junior Boys player-of-the-year honors in more than 10 years, Marquette has added in Leach another star who has finished in the top 10 of the WPGA Junior standings three consecutive years.
Leach first made a name for himself winning the 2016 WIAA Division 3 state championship with a pair of 73s at University Ridge and has excelled in both junior and regular amateur events ever since. This summer, he ranks fourth on the WPGA Junior standings on the strength of a victory at the Wisconsin Junior Masters in Racine and a runner-up finish to Eichhorn at the WSGA Junior Boys Championship.
Despite his decorated resume, Leach said he received only one other scholarship offer (from Drake). There was on-again, off-again dialogue with the University of Wisconsin during the recruiting process, Leach said, but the Badgers' interest had gone quiet in the end and the only other schools he was seriously considering were NCAA Division I UW-Green Bay and Division II UW-Parkside in Kenosha.
"I was a little surprised I didn't get more interest," Leach said. "But you kind of have to take it on yourself to reach out to all the universities and that was my mistake. I just recently reached out to a bunch of different schools, but most of them had already filled their class. You should, as soon as you can, send out an email to everybody, anybody you can think of or anybody would want to play for.
"The worst they are going to say is 'Sorry, we're not interested in you' but at least they know (about your interest in them). I think that was a mistake for me, but I'm happy where I'm at now."