Benton golfer Corbin Cantrell wrapped up his opening round in the LHSAA Division II championships a little after noon Monday, and his thoughts immediately turned to the rest of his teammates still out on the Shreveport Country Club course.
Cantrell, who was in the first group to tee off, had shot a 76, 5 over par and good enough to finish tied for fourth overall. He immediately wiped away any struggles and rooted for the rest of the Tigers.
And the Tigers will have a two-shot lead heading into today’s final round after shooting a combined 312 Monday.
“I know that everyone on my team is capable of shooting a great round, so I was just hoping they could finish strong,” Cantrell said.
Benton coach Tim Cram hopes his team will shake off any lingering frustration from a tough back nine.
“As a group, we’re fairly strong one through four,” Cram said. “Corbin has been playing well, but what really helps us is our depth. We struggled on the last few holes, but overall we played well.”
To secure a team title, the Tigers will have to hold off Parkview Baptist (314) and St. Thomas More (317).
“I reminded them that this isn’t an individual tournament. This is a team thing,” Cram said. “Every stroke that you can fight for will help the whole team. It’s not about just one guy. It’s all of them out there scratching. They responded well. I hope we can play better tomorrow. Parkview and St. Thomas More are both deep too, and I think it will come down to the last few guys.”
Cantrell earned his spot in the first group after shooting a 71 at the Division II regional, five shots lower than the second-place finisher. His 76 was the lowest for Benton on Monday — Jacob Wyatt finished with a 77, Sam Soley shot a 79, and Shane Cram had an 80 — but he triple bogeyed No. 15.
“The practice round gave me a hint that the course wasn’t going to be easy, and putting was difficult today,” Cantrell said. “On 15, I hit with my hybrid, and right when I bent down to get my tee, I saw the ball kick right. I had to take a drop, tried to get it over a tree and couldn’t. Then I ended up right in the corner of the bunker and two-putted. I’m going to go after everything (today), and know that I have nothing to lose. I hope to make up a few strokes, and hopefully I will make a few putts.”
St. Thomas More’s Drew Gonzales had the lowest Division II round Monday with a 73. Ruston’s Mitchell Haddox shot a 74, North DeSoto’s Matt Ramsey finished with a 75, Parkview Baptist’s Daniel Schroeder tied Cantrell at 76, and Parkway’s Jeff Scott shot a 77.
Many of the golfers had trouble judging putting speeds on the greens.
“They were really slick, but I’m used to that,” Haddox said. “I just couldn’t get the breaks down. A few of the guys in my group had a tough time, but I was able to learn from their putts. It helped that I always putted last.”
Haddox, like Cantrell, triple bogeyed a hole but recovered for a solid round including a birdie on 16.
“I let that triple go, moved on to the next shot,” he said. “You have to stay focused at a tournament like this. You have to stay in the zone. I told myself to calm down.”
In Division IV, also at Shreveport Country Club, Cedar Creek took a firm lead after Monday’s round by shooting a combined 326. Second-place Ascension Episcopal enters the final day 19 shots behind. Vermillion Catholic is in third, one shot behind Ascension Episcopal.
Tyler Lege, from Vermillion Catholic, led the way in Division IV with a first-round 77. Cedar Creek’s Johnny Maxwell and Jordan Cole and Episcopal’s Skye Mejia are tied in second at 78.