Long after most of her competitors left River Hall Country Club Thursday, Ida Baker freshman Brittany Shin was on the putting green working on her short game.
While Shin led the girls’ field after two days at the Nolan Henke-Patty Berg Junior Masters golf tournament, she wasn’t content with what she described as “not really my day.”
She heads into the tournament’s final day on Friday with an even-par 144, just two strokes ahead of Sydney Shrader’s 2-over 146 and Kendell Johnson’s 3-over 147.
“I could have hit under par again, but the greens just weren’t rolling as fast as I thought they would have,” said Shin, who last won the tournament in 2012 at age 11. “And all my putts ended up short for birdie. I had seven that were right in front of the cup. And if I had hit it a little more firm, I would have had a lot of birdies.”
So Shin went to the putting greens immediately following her round. Her father paced to the sides of her as she worked on several shots.
“I want to put a lot of pre-work and post-work into it because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “So I’m just going to practice putting again.”
The greens were difficult for a number of players on Thursday. As the boys’ 16-18 division players rolled into the clubhouse, many of Wednesday’s leaders saw their names tumble down the scoreboard.
Gulf Coast’s Christian Taylor, who ended Wednesday even par, shot a 10-over 82, moving into a tie for fourth place overall. Eric Grimes, meanwhile, moved into sole possession of first place after an even-par 72 and two-day total of 1-over 145.
Riverdale graduate Garrett Fernandez, who shot a first day 2-over 74, was 12-over 84 on Thursday. Defending champion Landon Weber was all but factored out of the championship race with a 7-over 79, putting him at 15-over 159.
Along with Grimes, Port Orange Spruce Creek senior Tommy Motts was the most consistent golfer on the second day, shooting a 1-over 73 to move to 3-over 144 and into second place overall.
“I’m definitely happy,” Motts said. “I could have played a little better, but it’s steady. I’m doing pretty good, not making a whole lot of mistakes.”
Motts, who’s playing in his first Southwest Florida tournament, was conservative on a number of tee shots, choosing his 3-wood instead of his driver. He hit into fairways and executed on the greens, scoring three birdies on 9, 12 and 18.
“Confidence kind of goes up and down,” he said. “It can change day to day. It’s a fickle thing. So I guess it helps my confidence knowing I have tournament experience and I’m not just playing out here.”
In the boys’ 13-15 division, Tarpon Springs resident Thomas Salanito moved into a tie for first place with Estero sophomore Luke Farmer after scoring the day’s best score at 4-under 68.
“I was making a lot more birdies and making one putts and saving birdie,” Salanito said.
The 13-year-old said he had plans to laminate the score sheet and one day “show to his kids.”
He capped off his outing with a 15-foot putt for par on 18.
Farmer, meanwhile, said he would be switching his putter on Friday after missing several attempts on the green Thursday.
“I didn’t make any putts at all,” Farmer said. “I had two birdies, but those were on par 5s that I two-putted.”
Henke-Berg Junior Masters Leaderboard
1. Eric Grimes, 73-72-145
2. Tommy Mott, 74-73-147
3. Ryan Frost, 73-77-150
1. Luke Farmer, 69-72-141
2. Thomas Salanito, 73-68-141
3. Blake Wheeler, 69-77-146
1. Brittany Shin, 69-75-144
2. Sydney Shrader, 74-72-146
3. Kendell Johnson, 70-77-147