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Wind elevates scores on opening day of 2A/1A Maryland state golf tournament

The winds swirled and scores soared Tuesday, as golfers were greeted for the opening round of the 2A/1A state tournament with very different conditions than those that the larger schools faced a day earlier at the University of Maryland golf course.

No individual players finished even par or better, compared with seven that accomplished the feat in 4A/3A, and the cut score of 346 in the team competition was 28 strokes higher than the 318 total from Monday.

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In the end, it was all about limiting damage and bouncing back from mistakes.

North East’s Noah Wallace managed the elements best among the boys with a 1-over-par 72, while the duo of Poolesville’s Olivia Cong and Oakdale’s Elizabeth Tucci matched that score of 72 to pace the girls.

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Baltimore-area players currently sitting in the top 10 for the boys are C. Milton Wright’s Jackson Geyer (T5. 77) and Joseph LoBianca (T10. 78), South Carroll’s Michael Valerio (T10. 78), Century’s Brady Comer (T10. 78) and North Harford’s Zachary Wilcox (T10. 78).

“Playing in tough conditions like today, you have to know that there are going to be tough holes ahead and there are going to be bogeys,” said Geyer, who sits five shots back of the lead after a round that included three birdies and six pars. “It just means it’s that much more important to have your mind set and to be ready to play every hole one at a time. For the most part I was really happy with how I did that.”

Aside from the team qualifiers, the only other boys player from the area to advance to the final round in 2A/1A was Patterson Mill’s Brandon Palen (T14. 80).

For the girls, Glenelg’s Megan Kirkpatrick (T4. 79) is the only Baltimore-area player to make the cut.

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“It was really hard to adjust to the conditions because they changed throughout the round. We started in the morning with little wind and it was kind of drizzling, but by the eighth or ninth hole the wind was starting to blow pretty hard and it was hard to tell which direction it was going” Kirkpatrick said. “I did overall pretty well, not exactly what I was hoping for, but I got up-and-down on a few holes to keep my score from getting too high.”

Kirkpatrick finished with nine pars and one birdie.

Four teams — Poolesville (330), Boonsboro (335), C. Milton Wright (344) and Hereford (346) — advanced to the second day of competition. In addition to Geyer and LoBianca, C. Milton Wright’s other scorers were Trevor Heid (83) and Tyler Mann (106). Hereford’s four scorers were Adam Green (81), Mac Tiller (83), Michael Goetz (88) and Ryan Martino (94).

The final round for all players and teams, including those from 4A/3A, is scheduled for a 9 a.m. shotgun start Wednesday morning.

Geyer said the key to him staying in contention was hitting solid drives.

“I got off the tee box really well and was really happy with that. The putting was OK, but getting the ball in play was the big thing,” he said.

Valerio faced a bit of late-round adversity, making double bogey twice in a three-hole stretch on his back nine. But just as the wheels seemed to be coming off, he steadied things with a birdie on the par-5 13th hole.

“You never go in expecting a double bogey, let alone two in a row like that, but I just kept telling myself to stay focused,” Valerio said. “My thought process was that each hole was a new hole. I got two 6s and then came back and made a birdie right after, so the big thing in these conditions today was staying in it no matter what.”

Overall, Valerio made three birdies on the day.

Comer also proved that he could bounce back. He had a rough start, playing his first six holes 5-over-par. But he settled down after that to make a couple birdies and play just 2-over during his last 12 holes.

“I made a par on [my sixth hole], I was fixing my grips and stuff … and then it seemed to just all start getting better,” Comer said. “I really just tried to play the clubs that I knew I could hit well and consistently, like by 3-wood and 7-iron. That’s what got the job done.”

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