AUSTIN — With the state title on the line, the situation at the Class 3A state golf meet at Austin’s Jimmy Clay Golf Course was far from ideal. It showed on most scorecards.
A cold front cascaded over Central Texas late Wednesday evening, plummeting temperatures into the 50s for Thursday’s opening round. Making the unseasonably chilly conditions even worse was a strong, stinging wind capable of altering shots and breaking spirits.
“By our standards, I don’t think we are playing very well, but with the conditions and the weather, we are playing as good as we can,” Gatesville coach Guy Dean said.
Despite the unexpected adversity created by Mother Nature, the Hornets’ girls team remains in the hunt for the program’s first state championship, sitting six strokes behind first-place Andrews following the first round.
Led by Lauren Davis, who shot a team-low 84 and is tied for fourth place individually, the Hornets posted a 343, virtually cementing a top-three finish after building a 45-stoke advantage over fourth-place Fredericksburg (388).
“We have a better shot than anyone else,” the senior said. “I feel that we can all just come together, shoot well tomorrow and beat them by more than just those six strokes they have us by.”
Andrews’ Hailey Burgen was the only player in the field to break 80, shooting a 78 while guiding the two-time defending champions, which has won 10 state titles since 1987, into first place with a opening-round score of 337. Snyder is situated in second place at 339.
After posting a 45 over the front nine, Davis shaved six strokes off her score during the final nine holes.
“I had a lot of clothes on today, but no matter how cold I was, I had to take all my layers off and play in my team shirt because I couldn’t swing,” Davis said. “I froze, but I finally got my swing working when I took all (the extra clothes) off.”
Teammate Kristen Smithhart put together a similar performance, shooting a 40 on the back nine to finish the round in a seven-way tie for ninth place with an 85.
“They both had really solid second nines,” Dean said. “They both got into a good groove, settled down and played good on the back nine.”
Katy Colson shot an 86, and Chelsy Tobin finished with an 88 to round out the Hornets’ score.
Gatesville’s Malorie Summers, who shot a first-round 95,is the first Hornet to tee off today’s final round, beginning at 12:30 p.m. with each of her teammates following in 10-minute increments.
Lampasas’ Rogers in top 10
Morgan Rogers knew it would be cold and windy, but figured she could handle it.
The Lampasas junior, who is playing at her third state tournament, found herself in a seven-way tie for ninth place after shooting an opening-round 85.
“It was horrible,” she said. “They told us it was going to be bad, but I was like, ‘Oh, you can still play in it and put up a good round.’ But that was miserable.”
Rogers opened the day with bogeys on each of her first five holes and shot par only twice as she a 43 on the front nine before adding a par-3 birdie on the back nine. The score leaves Rogers seven strokes behind.
“I couldn’t feel my hands half the time,” she said. “That affected my putting big time. … I was just focused on trying to stay warm. I was hiding behind trees most of the time.”
Gatesville sophomore in 2nd
Few players were able to avoid allowing the weather to throw their game off course.
Zane Washburn was one of the exceptions. The Gatesville sophomore, who finished fourth overall as a freshman after losing a third-place playoff, is poised to make another run at an individual title after shooting an opening-round 77. The performance puts Washburn in a four-way tie for second place, sitting four strokes behind leader James Sandoval.
“I like to hit a low shot into the wind as much as I can,” Washburn said. “I try to cut it through the wind instead of hitting it high and letting the wind take it.”
Washburn shot par on all but three holes. He boogied a pair of holes on the front nine before posting a boogey and adouble boogey on the back nine.
As a team, Gatesville is fifth overall with a team score of 334. Brantley Cole and Bryce Cole posted identical rounds of 84, while Hunter Dean shot an 89 and Ryan Phillips finished with a 91.
Andrews (316) and Argyle (319) finished the first round within three strokes of each other and hold a slight edge over the next five teams in the standings.
Longview Spring Hill (330) and Decatur (333) are situated in front of Gatesville at third and fourth, respectively, while Big Spring (336) and Fredericksburg (337) are nipping at the Hornets’ heels.