Patriots finish first day of state competition with lead

Published 8:03 pm Monday, April 25, 2011

After finishing up a perfect regular season, there is only one tournament left for the Pike Liberal Arts golf team to claim – and it’s the biggest one of the year.

The first round of the 2011 AISA State Golf Championships began Monday morning at the Troy Country Club and with day one in the books, the Patriots found themselves exactly where they were hoping to be.

PLAS is currently eight strokes up on Tuscaloosa Academy, leading the 11-team field with a score of +31 on the first day.

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The Knights and Lee-Scott round out the Top 3 teams, with scores of +39 and +43, respectively.

“I think, overall, the scores are fairly high,” Patriot head coach Denny Sanford said.

“But we are in the position to want to be, and that’s leading going into the second day.”

Leading the way for the Patriots were several golfers, as three of off the PLAS team finished in the Top 10.

Both Audie Stell and Stewart Pinckard finished tied for third after shooting a 75, +4 over, while Ben McKeller finished his first 18 holes with a 78, +7 over.

Will Clowdus, a senior from Lee-Scott, lead all individuals after the first round thanks to his 70, -1 under.

Even though PLAS has the lead going into the final day, the team’s head coach said he believes his group was playing under some pressure.

“I kind of think we had a little pressure on us (Monday) because we felt like we needed to perform well on our home course,” Sanford said.

“We haven’t lost all season long, plus I think there is some pressure on some of the senior guys as they are trying to win the individual medal too. I think the main thing for us to focus on is winning the team title – that’s what we came here to do.”

Being able to play in the state championship rounds on your home course is a nice way to relieve a little bit of that pressure though.

According to Sanford, the team has practiced on the course nearly every day for the past two weeks.

“We have been able to win this season, because we are a good team,” Sanford said.

“There have been some close calls though, but this group has worked hard all throughout the season. We should have some advantages playing on our own course. The greens are a little bit faster than usual, but they are far. We know where to play every hole. Hopefully, we will continue to do that.”

Second round action will begin this morning just after 8 a.m. at the Troy Country Club.