Blake Elder knew what was at stake. After Shorecrest came in with a sizzling team score of 312, including three rounds in the 70s, his Palm Harbor University team was out of the running for the Class 4A, District 10 championship.
If Elder was going to make it to the state tournament next week in Sarasota, he had to beat Shorecrest's Zeric Hulvey in a playoff for the individual title. He did so in dramatic fashion.
After both players pulled their second shots left on the first hole at Innisbrook's Eagle Run course, Hulvey chipped to within two feet of the cup. Elder did even better, chipping in from 30 feet for a birdie and the individual championship.
"I didn't hit it the way I wanted, but it went in," Elder said. "I caught it a little thin. But I knew I had to get it close."
The pressure already was off Hulvey, secure in the knowledge that his team qualified for state. But he couldn't help but think what might have been. Hulvey three-putted 18 to finish with 74 and force the playoff.
Aside from Hulvey, Matt Mussett (75) and Brandon Bayless (77) helped the Chargers advance.
Palm Harbor University's Jason Overton and Clearwater Central Catholic's Kyle Lindskog each shot 77 on the demanding par-72 course. The only other score in the 70s was by Lakeside Christian's Chris Bittner (78).