Nearly six hours of weather delays made for a memorably inconvenient first day at the annual IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals.
Once play finally concluded Tuesday evening at Prairie View Golf Club, top-ranked Center Grove found itself in a tie for third place with a score of 296. Defending state champion Westfield picked up where it left off last June, taking immediate command with its 3-under-par total of 285.
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In second place entering today’s final round is Hamilton Southeastern (291). Fort Wayne Dwenger is deadlocked with Center Grove in third (296).
Center Grove, which finished four shots behind Westfield at the 2015 state finals, finds itself in familiar territory. The Trojans played inspired golf the second day a year ago but ran out of time — and holes — in finishing runner-up.
“We’ve got a shot at it. We’re within striking distance,” Center Grove coach Jim Williams said. “We could’ve handled the delay a little better, but some of the scores being put up are just unbelievable.”
Case in point: Hamilton Southeastern senior Cole McAree, who tied the Prairie View course record by carding seven birdies on his way to a 65.
For Center Grove, sophomore No. 1 player Noah Gillard birdied the par-4 second hole and then remained consistent throughout to shoot a 2-under-par 70. Ethan Shepherd parred all nine holes on the front side on his way to a 73.
Center Grove’s No. 3 player, Sam Jean, finished his 18 holes with a 77. Senior Tyler Rankel recovered from a triple-bogey on the first hole to shoot 76, while Jackson Williams had an 80.
First off the tee for the Trojans was No. 5 player Jackson Williams at 9:12 a.m.
All five Center Grove players were on the front nine when tournament officials sounded the first horn for players to cease play at 10:12 a.m. due to storms in the vicinity.
Play didn’t resume until 3:13 p.m.
Only 50 minutes later, inclement conditions again halted play. This time, however, the delay was brief — approximately 37 minutes.
Gillard punctuated the day’s play by tapping in the final shot of the first round at 9:27 p.m.