Newsome’s Tyler Bakich had the best single round at last year’s state tournament to lead him to a fourth-place finish.
So the junior knew what to expect and how to excel Tuesday when he returned to Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills for the first round of the two-day Class 3A state tournament.
Bakich started his day 4 under through six holes and handled swirling winds on the back nine to finish the round with 3-under 69 that put him in contention for the championship.
“My plan was just to get to 2, 3, 4 under early so I had some cushion,” said Bakich, who recently committed to Florida State. “I knew it was gonna be tough coming down the back nine.”
And it was. He hit a hazard twice en route to double-bogey on the 10th hole but battled the wind well enough to salvage the day’s second-best round. He’s one shot off the lead.
“I’m pleased with it,” said Bakich, who finished fourth at state last year after shooting a tournament-best 67 on the second day. “We’ll hopefully do better (today).”
Bakich’s Wolves are also in contention after finishing the first day in third with a team score of 309 — 11 shots behind leader Bradenton Lakewood Ranch. Senior John Coultas is in the top 10 at 2 over, followed by junior Kyle West with 80.
Plant freshman Chris Kern shot the low score for the 12th-place Panthers with 77. Freedom was 15th as a team, led by senior James Jones (29th, 6 over).
Hillsborough County has a shot at the girls title after Freedom junior Terese Romeo finished her first round in second place.
Her 1-over 73 put her a stroke behind midway leader Madison Glennie, a Countryside senior. Romeo, the Tampa Bay Times’ reigning county player of the year, finished 11th at state last year.
Steinbrenner’s girls had a strong first day of competition and were fourth as a team at 337 — 12 shots behind Melbourne Viera.
Junior Claire Becker’s 4-over 76 had her tied for seventh individually, and teammates Kelsy Holbert and Alyssa Serino both shot 83.
King senior Steffi Yo was tied for 13th with 7-over 79.