'98 runners-up make run at top; Vance, Hong out ahead in state event's 1st round


Experience matters.

Yesterday's first round of the Maryland Public Schools Scholastic Athletic Association state golf tournament belonged to last year's runners-up.

Arundel sophomore Callie Vance, who finished five strokes behind champion Erin Clasper of Wootton last year, has a two-stroke lead over Laura Terebey, a senior at St. Michaels, after producing a 9-over-par 80 over the University of Maryland College Park course.

North Carroll junior Carlie Gordon was three strokes behind Vance in third place.

On the boys side, Whitman senior Charles Hong, who lost last year by one stroke to defending champion Jimmy Cunningham of Walkersville, shot a 71 -- one stroke better than Churchill's Jairo Irreno and two strokes better than John Scott Rattan of Watkins Mills.

Cunningham is four strokes behind Hong, tied with Urbana's James Hockman.

Chilly morning temperatures, a swirling wind and the hilly course inflated many players' scores. Less than one fourth of the boys finished below 80, and only Ashley Grier of Smithsburg joined the top three girls to end the day with a score under 90.

"The wind was so strong, and it was right in your face," Vance said. "The ball was not going as far as you normally hit, and it was hard to judge what club to use."

An example of the weather's effect could be seen on the par-5, 465-yard 16th, where Vance's approach shot ended up about 100 yards short of the green. Although the situation would normally call for a pitching wedge, she used an 8-iron and still was 20 yards from the green.

Gordon said the course's sloping greens proved difficult to read, as she learned on the third hole.

"My ball was above the hole, and I thought I hit it soft, but it rolled way past the hole," she said. "You have to keep it below the hole to score."

The wind also affected the leaders on the boys side. On the narrow, par-4, 362-yard 12th hole, Hong -- rather than using a 3-wood -- pulled out a 3-iron and drove the ball about 230 yards.

"It's a short hole and the wind was behind me," recalled Hong, who parred the hole. "If I hit a 3-wood and it goes left, I know I'm going to go into the woods. I played it safe."

Dulaney's Scott Headd and Matt Laun of Mount Hebron both shot 76 for sixth place. While Headd said he is looking to finish in the top five, Laun expressed surprise at his performance.

"All I want to do is shoot in the 70s," the senior said. "I don't usually do this good, but I was feeling it today."

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