Benton’s David Cole shot a blistering 2-under-par 70 — the low round in his division and one of just two under-par rounds carded on day one — to guide his Tigers to the first-round lead in Division II of the LHSAA State High School Golf Championships at Huntington Park on Monday.
Meanwhile, in Division IV, the St. Mary’s Tigers, led by lone senior Luke Lucky and his brother Josh, held a slim margin over second-place Opelousas Catholic and defending division champion Cedar Creek heading into today’s final round.
Both divisions will crown champions today at Huntington Park, with the first groups teeing off at 8 a.m.
“We played well, top to bottom, and that depth was key for us (Monday),” said Benton head coach Tim Cram, who has led the Tigers to back-to-back Division II championships. “David played great and picked us all up, but we had good scores from every position in our lineup.”
Cole, a sophomore, was low-key about his standout round, focusing instead on the job remaining.
“I played good and consistent golf,” said Cole. “Kept the ball in play, made some putts. Still have a whole day to play, and there are good golfers out there waiting to pounce on any mistakes we make.”
Benton’s squad of Jacob Wyatt, Shane Cram, Corbin Cantrell, Colton Ryan and Cole shot 308, good for a 12-stroke lead over their closest competitor, North DeSoto at 320. E.D. White stands third at 326, followed by St. Louis Catholic at 327.
The Griffins were led by regionals runner-up Matt Ramsey, who played well despite some difficulties on the finishing holes. Ramsey bogeyed holes 8, 9, 17 and 18, yet still carded the second-lowest score of the day, a 1-under 71.
“I don’t know exactly what it was, nerves or what,” said Ramsey. “If I can get a handle on that, (today) could be really special.”
In Division IV, consistency and confidence were the buzzwords as St. Mary’s took a four-stroke lead heading into today. Tigers coach Chris Lee believes that formula can win a state title.
“It’s hard not to be confident when you’ve got these guys playing for you,” said Lee. “They spread that everywhere, and I always feel like we’re going to win. If we play like we did (Monday), they can’t beat us.”
Cedar Creek, meanwhile, has its work cut out to defend their championship, standing 14 shots back at the midway point.
“We didn’t play our best, but we didn’t play awful either,” said Cedar Creek coach Katie Eagles. “Now, we have to play close to our best (today) to win it back.”
Opelousas Catholic boasted the top two individuals in Division IV after one round: Jamison Thomasee (73) and Kristian Fontenot (74).
“I thought Jamison showed rare focus out there (Monday),” said Opelousas Catholic coach Julie Edwards. “He was locked in from the first tee shot.”