CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — It’s going to take some work to get back into contention as Houston took control of the Class 3A state golf tournament after Tuesday’s first round of play at WillowBrook Golf Course in Manchester.
Houston shot a team total 151 and is sitting in first place after the first day, a round that was interrupted for a while because of rain.
The wet conditions wreaked havoc on the course as individual players struggled on the 18 holes. Only one female player recorded anything under par. Brighton’s Aubree Jones shot a 1-under, 71, Tuesday and is the leader in the clubhouse after the first day.
Meanwhile, Clarksville High sits seven shots back as a team after carding a 158 Tuesday.
“It’s still a golf tournament,” Clarksville coach J.T. Batson said. “There’s five teams, and three of the top four are within a stroke. However, if those teams do exactly what they did (Tuesday) and we have a good day tomorrow, we’re sitting in right smack-dab in contention.”
Mariah Smith led the Lady Wildcats with a 6-over, 78, Tuesday and sits in 15th place. Breana Smith is tied for 20th after carding an 80, while Riley Cooper is in 23rd place with an 81.
Batson told his team to forget about Tuesday’s difficult round.
“I told them, ‘You go back to your hotel room and deal with (Tuesday’s) round however you need to deal with it. But (Wednesday) you come out ready to play and just play the 18 holes that are ahead of us.’ I have girls on my team that can go under-par and lower. Now it’ll have to be a special day, but I have girls that can have that special day. It’s a steep hill to climb, but I absolutely trust these girls.”
The wet conditions slowed the greens considerably, and the 90-minute weather delay midway through the first round disrupted most golfers’ momentum. Weather could play a factor in Wednesday’s final round.
“Everyone was playing the same golf course as everyone else,” Batson said. “It was tough to get anything to hold once you hit the green. We were on No. 15 when the weather delay happened and we weren’t playing too bad. We were three strokes back before the delay, then after the delay it killed all the momentum we had. We went 7-over in the last three holes. But again, everyone had to go through the delay.”
Clarksville High is seeking its third state title, having won it two straight years in 2011 and 2012.
“We simply have to play our best (Wednesday),” Batson said. “Our girls have done it before.”
The defending state champs, Rossview, failed to advance to state as a team after CHS captured the region title last week. But Caroline and Catherine Caudill competed Tuesday as individuals. Caroline Caudill is within striking distance of the individual state title after her 1-over, 73, Tuesday. Catherine Caudill is tied with Breana Smith for 20th, firing an 80 herself.
Coffee County, Farragut and Dobyns-Bennett are tied for second place as a team. All three schools are one stroke behind Houston with a 152. Brentwood (167) sits in sixth, followed by Brighton (169) and Warren County (173).
On the boys’ side, Clarksville High’s Eric Jinnette was tied for 17th after the first round. He shot a 2-over, 74, Tuesday and is tied with four other golfers. The boys’ individual leader in the clubhouse is Sevier County’s Spencer Cross. Cross fired a 6-under, 66.
Farragut has a four stroke lead in the boys’ 3A team scores with a 293. Brentwood sits in second place with a 297, while Hendersonville is in third with a 302.
Reach prep writer George Robinson at 931-245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.