By Brad Fauber - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Central's Ben Kline and Strasburg's Tyler Doman were two of four golfers sitting atop the leaderboard at the end of the first Bull Run District mini-tournament of the season at Blue Ridge Shadows on Monday.
Kline and Doman each finished the day with an 18-hole total of 81 strokes on the par-72 course, tied with William Monroe's Logan Yates and Austin Batten for low-medalist honors, but both golfers said their respective rounds left much to be desired.
Kline, a rising junior, began his day in strong fashion as he chipped in for par on the second hole and birdied the par-3 third hole on a chip-in from just off the green, but said the wheels came off on the back nine.
"I was one-over [par] on the front -- I'll take that any day of the week, especially back here -- but the back nine just killed me," Kline said. "This is a really tough course, everybody's scores were up. Yates usually shoots even-par or under and he was right where I was, so I'm proud of that."
Blue Ridge Shadows is the home course for both Strasburg and Clarke County, so handling the course isn't typically a challenge for Doman. However, Doman said fatigue began to set in late in the day as the heat began to take its toll.
Doman birdied the ninth hole behind some strong driving and a solid approach shot, but he said his short game was an issue all afternoon.
"I hit my tee ball good pretty much all day, except for [hole] 16, but overall I was good there," Doman said. "I just couldn't putt today. I had 10-footers and stuff that just kept lipping out. I couldn't make anything."
Doman, a junior, finished one stroke ahead of teammate Jared Werner, the No. 1 golfer for the Rams, and was one of three Strasburg golfers to finish the afternoon with a score in the 80s. Rising sophomore Jacob Smith turned in an 85 on Monday, an encouraging sight for Strasburg coach Rick Bowley, who has had to replace three seniors from last year's team.
Garrett Richards rounded out the scoring for the Rams with a 99, giving Strasburg a total of 347, good enough for second place in the tournament behind defending district champion William Monroe (328).
"We played pretty well today, for the most part. Obviously what we need, from a team standpoint, is to find someone to fill that No. 4 score," Bowley said. "I think we have three solid individuals, but to get the team up we need to find that fourth guy. And I think we can -- we feel like we'll be able to and we'd rather do that sooner than later."
Central coach Jeff Walters finds himself in a similar situation as he too is looking for a consistent contributor in the No. 4 slot. Jacob Allwine finished with a solid 89 for the Falcons on Monday, but Central didn't have anyone else below the 100-stroke mark.
Rising senior Eric Semones struggled for much of the day and carded a 100, and Tyler Ferrero turned in a 109 in the fourth spot to give Central a total of 379. The Falcons finished fourth in the tournament, 11 strokes behind Clarke County (368) and nine ahead of Madison County (388).
Monday's tournament was the first of the year for Central, and it offered Walters an opportunity to gauge how his team stacks up to the rest of the competition early in the season.
"One thing is, you figure out what everybody's got right from the start, and things kind of fell in line where we thought," Walters said. "We knew Strasburg was going to have a tough team, it's going to be a battle for second place, and hopefully, at some point in the year, we can try to join them.
"With where we finished today with the guys that we have, I'm happy with that for right now in the season and hopefully we can improve."