For the second year in a row, Fivay senior Austin Padova shrugged off a sluggish start to put himself in contention at the Class A state golf tournament.
Padova’s second tee shot sailed into the water, but he quickly recovered to shoot 2-under 70. He was tied for second — one shot behind Naples Community School junior Jackson Stroup — after Tuesday’s first round at Deer Island Country Club in Tavares.
“I still kept my head in the game,” Padova said. “I knew it was early.”
Padova’s low drives helped him battle wind gusts of up to 30 mph that hounded almost every tournament site Tuesday.
He spent several hours Monday practicing his irons at the course, and the work paid off. Other than a double-bogey on 18, Padova kept the ball in the middle of the fairway and set up short putts.
“I was really consistent down the middle and knocked it on the green or pretty close,” he said.
Padova birdied four holes on the back nine to remain a contender in his third trip to state. He bogeyed his second hole in last year’s first round but rallied to finish the day tied for sixth. But he struggled on Day 2, dropping to 15th.
Padova said he won’t change his approach today, despite the mounting pressure and a state title at stake.
“Just try to do the same thing,” Padova said.
Class 2A boys: Mitchell junior Dylan Strout was tied for 38th after shooting 9-over 81 at the breezy Mission Inn Resort & Club at Howey-in-the-Hills.
“The course was playing really tough today,” Mustangs coach Rick Hyatt said. “It’s tough enough on a calm day.”
Strout struggled in the middle of the round before birdieing two of his last five holes.
Class A girls: Saddlebrook Prep senior Lauren Riehle shot 10-over 82 to end the first day tied for 27th in her third trip to state. The University of Miami commit needed more than 40 putts at Harbor Hills Country Club in Lady Lake to finish her only round in the 80s all season.
“Tomorrow’s another day,” Saddlebrook coach Mike Tali said.