On a cool and damp Tuesday at Rock Manor Golf Club, the 2013 DIAA Golf State Championships began with pretournament favorites Caesar Rodney and Salesianum living up to those expectations.
The Riders and Sals each ended the first round with 306 shots from their top four players, with third-place Tatnall right on their heels at three strokes back.
Caesar Rodney, the defending team champion, went into the day confident that the depth of its lineup would put them in this position.
“We have six people that I thought could go out and play well, and it would not have surprised me if any one of those six would have been in the top four,” Riders coach John Newman said. “We’ll go to battle with the top four people [today].”
Both Salesianum and Caesar Rodney put two golfers in the top 10 in the individual standings. Ryan Rucinski paced Sallies with an even-par round of 71, good enough for second place, and Adam Chandler’s 75 put him alone in seventh.
The Riders’ Samantha Leite shot a 73 to put her in a third-place tie with Tatnall’s Davis Mitchell, and defending state champion Joe Visalli carded a 74, putting him in a tie for fifth with Charter’s Kyle Plusch.
They are chasing overall leader Matthew Cleary of Tower Hill, who navigated the 6,071-yard track in 68 strokes for a three-shot lead.
Cleary started his round on the 10th hole, and he rode a hot putter to finish his first nine holes in 32. He continued to putt well on the front nine, shooting a 36 to maintain his position.
“I drove the ball really well, and I made a few putts. I kind of hobbled in, making bogey in the two to three final holes,” said Cleary, the only player under par. “I really putted well, and that was the key.”
The course played longer than the yardage indicated because the off-and-on rain showers limited the roll players got on their balls, but the conditions for the final round will speed up for the 65 players who made the cut.
“It’s going to be pretty hot and windy, which is pretty much the complete opposite of today,” Leite said. “I’m going to stick to my plan, and I’m going to make some adjustments tonight.”