At the Class A state meet, the head covers were off the drivers, and Northside Christian’s longest hitters did not feel handcuffed by the course.
Ocala Golf Club, site of the girls tournament, is a par-72 course that measures more than 5,800 yards. It has forced players to use drivers more than any other postseason tournament. To the power players among the Mustangs, the layout was particularly inviting and the ability to rely on a driver was an advantage. Northside’s long hitters could use their length to hit shorter approach shots, as long as they drove the ball accurately.
The Mustangs were able to drive consistently enough to stay within striking distance of capturing their first team title since 2004. Northside enters Wednesday’s final round in second place with a combined score of 296, one stroke behind first-year program Orlando Windermere Prep.
“You can’t win a team title on the first day of the state tournament,” Northside coach D.J. Jackson said. “But you certainly can lose it. We played well enough to give ourselves a chance and that’s all we can ask for.”
A.J. Newell, the runnerup among individuals last year, shot 1-over 73 to tie sister Anna with the best score for the Mustangs. Both are in a six-way tie for seventh place, five strokes behind the first-day leader, Boca Raton St. Andrew’s Jan Chanpalangsri (68).
All five of Northside’s golfers shot in the 70s. Danielle Grace was third on the team with 75, followed by Michelle Butler (76) and Allison Armstrong (77). The Mustangs are the only team among the leaders to have all five golfers in the top 25.
“We’re real close with our scores,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a shootout the rest of the way. We need to play better to win. We’ll probably need someone to shoot in the 60s.”
Class A boys
Calvary Christian’s Lee McCoy and Taylor Hancock each shot 2-over 74 to finish in a 10-way tie for 18th after the first day at Silver Spring Shores Country Club in Ocala. No other county golfers are in the top 25. McCoy and Hancock helped the Warriors finish 12th with a score of 316.
Class 2A boys
Dunedin’s Travis Huston was tied for 14th after shooting 2-over 74 and St. Petersburg’s Jack Maguire tied for 20th (75).
Class 2A girls
St. Petersburg’s Shane Crutchfield was confident playing at the Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club because of her familiarity with the course. But after winning her third straight district title and losing in a playoff for the top spot at regionals, Crutchfield will have some catching up to do if she wants to remain in contention for a top-three finish at state. She tied for 13th after shooting 5-over 77. The county’s other individual qualifier, Countryside’s Madison Glennie, was 28th (84).