The pace of play was slow and the greens at the University of Maryland golf course were hard and fast, making for tough scoring conditions for the majority of the 4A/3A golfers participating in the opening round of the state championship tournament on Monday.
Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen, however, failed to get the memo that this wasn’t a day to go low.
The Raiders’ senior and defending girls state champion raced out of the gates with a five-under-par round of 66, setting a new single-round record for girls at the state tournament. Her day, which included five birdies and no bogies, catapulted her to a six-shot lead in the two-day event over Wootton’s Delaney Shah (72).
“I didn’t necessarily have a number in mind, but I definitely felt like I had a chance to shoot something low because I’ve been playing really well all season,” Nguyen said. “The conditions were tough, the greens especially, but I talked to my dad before the round and he told me not to leave anything out there and to attack everything.
“This is my last chance here and I felt like I had a great opportunity to come out and get a great head start.”
Nguyen wasn’t the only local golfer to put themselves in good position following the opening round, as Glenelg’s Steven Segrist holds a share of the boys lead with Wootton’s Justin Feldman after shooting a 73. The next best boys scores were a pair of 75s from South River’s Griffin Cosgrove and Churchill’s Luke Schaap.
In the team competition, Chuchill compiled a four-player total of 318 to sit eight shots ahead of South River and Wootton. Atholton and Urbana are tied for fourth at 327.
All of the qualifying teams and individuals will return on Wednesday for the final round, which will also include the qualifiers from the 2A/1A schools that are slated to play their opening round on Tuesday.
For Nguyen, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she had the making of something special on her hands. After making a par on her first hole, she proceeded to birdie four of her next five to quickly get herself to 4-under par.
“It was kind of a weird feeling with my start because the round was going so slow. I mean it was a six-hour round today with lots of waiting … it felt like it was hard to really get any momentum going,” Nguyen said. “But it was like I kept making putts, especially early on. I was focusing one shot at a time and it was definitely working.”
As well as she was playing, Nguyen had company at the top in the early going. Shah strung together her own stretch of three birdies in a row to get herself to 3-under par through eight holes.
Nguyen maintained her one-shot cushion through their 11th hole, capitalizing on a couple big par putts along the way.
“My big thing today was I wanted a bogey-free round,” Nguyen said. “If the birdies fell then that was a bonus, but I didn’t want any bogies.”
Nguyen got another birdie to fall on her 12th hole, sinking a 30-footer from off the green to get herself to 5-under par.
She played steady golf the rest of the way, making six straight pars coming in. During that same stretch, Shah made four bogies and slipped all the way back to 1-over.
Segrist’s round wasn’t nearly as flashy. But on a day where only six boys shot 77 or better, he didn’t have to be.
He made no birdies and four bogeys, but came through with an eagle on the par 5 16th hole to surge back into a share of the lead.
“I hit a 4-iron to just off the green about 20 feet away and it was the first putt I made all day,” Segrist said. “Honestly, more than anything, it was just nice to see the ball go in the hole finally.”
He proceeded to make two pars coming in to share the clubhouse lead with Feldman, who shot 2-under par on his back nine to make up for what was a rocky start.
Nguyen’s big day paid dividends for Atholton in the team competition as well, with the Raiders making it to the final day of states as a team for the first time in program history.
“This is a huge accomplishment making it to the championship round and we’re right three, only nine shots back,” Atholton coach Scott Robinson said. “Bryana’s score was the real catalyst, but I’m also proud of the other kids for hanging in and doing their part as well.”
Max Rosenthal (80), Chris Robinson (87) and Josh Lewis (94) rounded out the team’s scorers.