Overcast skies and soft greens created prime scoring conditions for the opening round of the Class 2A-1A state golf tournament Tuesday at University of Maryland, resulting in a tightly packed leaderboard in both the individual and team competitions.
La Plata’s Gavin Ganter (even-par 72) set the pace for the boys and Patterson Mill’s Paula Moon (80) posted the top score for the girls. There are nine boys and three girls, however, within four shots of the respective leaders.
La Plata and Linganore tied for top team honors with combined totals of 323, sitting 14 shots ahead of third-place Oakdale — the only other team to qualify for the final round, which is currently scheduled for Thursday. Ganter sits two shots ahead of Fallston’s William Creery and Century’s Liam Wolf, who each fired rounds of 74.
Wolf finds himself in a bit of uncharted territory. The Knights senior has qualified for states each of his four years in high school, but prior to this fall his best opening round was an 82.
This time around, he capitalized on birdies on the ninth and 13th holes to steady himself after a couple early bogeys.
“Compared to those previous years, I’m extremely happy … and even more so because I am coming off an 87 at counties, which is just not good at all,” Wolf said. “But today I hit a bunch of fairways and that put me in position to score well. Now if I can just focus on my approach shots and putting, I feel like I will have a chance.”
Winters Mill’s Ethan Wolbert is part of a four-way tie for fourth after shooting a 75 and he said his round was all about sticking to the game plan. He hit lots of irons off the tee, opting for position golf instead of pulling out driver like other members of his group.
“I came into today wanting to play conservative, stay out of trouble, and it was definitely tough at times when the other guys were putting it way out there … but I stuck with it,” Wolbert said. “I got my irons going on the back nine and I feel like my game plan paid off in the end.”
Wolbert made birdies on both of the par 5s on the back nine.
South Carroll’s Nick Amateau shot 76 as the other Carroll player to finish under the cut line of 81. WM’s Brian Inglis shot 84, Liberty’s Justin Bartolowits carded an 86, and Manchester Valley’s Logan Austin shot 93.
Moon has a one-shot ahead of Linganore’s Payton Smith and four in front of Oakdale’s Elizabeth Tucci. The other girls to qualify for the final round are Herford’s Martha Kaestner (87), Sparrows Point’s Rhianna Stitt (88), and Century’s Suzanna Martin (92).
The final round for 2A-1A is scheduled for a 9 a.m. shotgun start Thursday.
Francis Scott Key 3, Williamsport 2
Round: 1A West Region 2 final
Highlight: The Eagles (7-5-2) knocked out the top-seeded Wilcdats behind three goals from Carter Shipley. FSK scored within the first 30 seconds of the game and survived a back-and-forth affair to make it to the state quarterfinals.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Brent Kennedy contributed to this article.