Despite four straight state championships, it was thought the Calvary Cavaliers may find some resistance in the hunt for No. 5 at the LHSAA Division III golf tournament.
Thanks to a birdie binge by junior Sam Burns and a steady Monday morning on the links by fellow LSU commit Nathan Jeansonne, the Cavaliers carry a stunning 45-stroke lead into Tuesday’s final round at East Ridge Country Club.
The race for the Division I title is a different story. St. Thomas More and St. Paul’s share the lead at 308, but Byrd is in the hunt at 310, while Catholic high is six strokes off the pace.
Byrd’s Jeffrey Berry leads the individual competition following his opening 72.
The final rounds for Division I and Division III will take place Tuesday at East Ridge.
Division III took center stage in the morning. Following a double-bogey that dropped Burns to even par at No. 13, he rattled off four consecutive birdies to post a 4-under 67.
“I felt comfortable out there the whole time and I was rolling it well,” Burns said. “I kept my confidence up after the trouble on 13; I knew I could make some birdies coming in.”
Despite breezy conditions throughout the round, Jeansonne birdied his final hole to shoot 69. Calvary’s 3-over 287 team total included a 73 from Ryan Alford and 78 from Gunner Russell.
“I was hitting the ball pretty good, so I wasn’t really worried about (the wind),” Jeansonne said. “I didn’t make any mistakes from tee to green, but I missed 3 putts inside 4 feet. It could have easily been 4- or 5-under.”
There is a logjam in the race for second in Division III. Parkview Baptist is second at 332 while Catholic-New Iberia and U-High posted 333 totals. Notre Dame is two off the runner-up spot at 334.
Catholic’s Micah Goulas is third in the Division III individual race after firing a 70.
With the team title all but in the bag, Burns and Jeansonne are ready for another battle for individual honors.
“It will be awesome,” Burns said. “We’re the best of buds, but when we get on the course, we want to beat each other.”
Jeansonne finished just shy of his teammate last year. He’s ready to make amends.
“I’m ready,” Jeansonne said. “I need to.”
For the Division I group, the afternoon was all about survival.
“We kind of scraped it around a bit, but we held it together,” said St. Thomas More golfer Drew Gonzales following his 76. Teammate John Davis led the way with 74.
Solid opening rounds by Thomas Ruli (73) and Beau Briggs (74) helped St. Paul’s grab a share of the lead.
Tuesday presents a big opportunity for the homestanding Yellow Jackets. With just a couple of strokes to make up on the frontrunners, it could get interesting.
“Winning would be special,” Byrd freshman Philip Barbaree Jr. said. “Our coach (Casey Martin) is the only one who has won state title in a while, so it would be nice to get back at him with that.
“It would be really nice for Byrd, especially with Calvary winning.”
Berry and Barbaree (75) were the only Byrd golfers in the 70s in the opening round.
“I hit it really good today; probably the best I have in a while,” said Barbaree, who won regionals with a 66. “I just could not get a putt to drop. It’s the worst I’ve putted in a while.”
Matt Jakuback (75) was one of three Catholic golfers to break 80. After getting one competitive round in at the par-71 venue, he’s confident his team can pull through Tuesday.
“We’ll have a little more course knowledge and be able to go low Tuesday,” he said. “It’s exciting. We didn’t play pretty well, but we stuck in there. The course played tough today. It’s nice to see we’re in the thick of it.”