TAMPA — On a warm, arid afternoon in the North Tampa suburb of Forest Hills, Jimmy Stanger did what many have long theorized he could.
The Gaither sophomore and reigning FSGA Junior Boys 13-15 age group champion proved on a given day, he can beat the average player — and even a high level Junior golfer or two — on one leg.
Favoring a sprained left ankle that relegated him to crutches all weekend, Stanger shot even-par 35 on the Babe Zaharias front nine Tuesday, lifting Gaither (9-4) to a 152-167 team victory against Class 2A, District 10 foe Chamberlain (7-6).
"The ankle was pretty much fine walking,” said Stanger, who actually sprained it twice while playing Frisbee at a weekend speech and debate camp in Gainesville.
“But (golf) is the one sport where you don’t want to injure your left ankle because you’ve got to be able to pivot around it. Basically every time I tried to pivot around the ankle, it goes out.”
Nonetheless, Stanger, wearing a tennis shoe on his left foot, birdied the par-4 No. 1 before notching five consecutive pars.
Afterward, however, he was kicking himself — presumably with his right foot — over missing a birdie chance on the 481-yard, par-5 sixth, and getting bogey on the par-4 seventh.
“You know, 35 isn’t bad when I look back on it, but I just blew too many opportunities,” he said.
Stanger’s playing partner, Cowboys left-handed senior Josh Black, added 39, while senior Shawn Sirignano later turned in 38 to help Gaither finish three strokes better than coach Dwayne Olinger predicted.
“I told them if we shot 155 or better we lower our stroke average, which is what we need going into districts,” Olinger said.
Chamberlain, observing its senior day, got an uncharacteristically rough outing from No. 1 upperclassman Gary Buffington (5-over 40), who will attempt to defend his district individual title Monday at Temple Terrace.
Junior Hunter Chewning’s 39 was Chamberlain’s best score of the day. Two other seniors, Jake Schuyler (42) and Billy Goldthorpe (46), scored for the Chiefs.